Loquat – Eriobotrya japonica

Large evergreen shrub or small tree, with a rounded crown and short trunk. Height: 15-30 ft tall, but is often smaller (10-13 ft).

Leaves: alternate, simple, dark green, tough and leathery in texture, with a serrated margin, and densely velvety-hairy below.

Fruit: unusual among fruit trees because flowers appear in the autumn or early winter, and the fruits are ripe in late winter or early spring. 1 inch in diameter, white, five petals, produced in stiff panicles of 3-10 flowers. Flowers have a sweet, heady aroma that can be smelled from a distance. Fruits grow in clusters, are oval, rounded, or pear-shaped. Yellow or orange, sometimes red-blushed skin. The succulent, tangy flesh is white, yellow, or orange; sweet to acid, depending on the cultivar. Sweetest when soft and orange.

Native to southeastern China. Easy to grow in subtropical to mild temperate climates where it is often primarily grown as an ornamental, and secondarily for its fruits. It has become naturalized in highland parts of Central America, and is often found growing wild in areas that have been disturbed but abandoned.