Big Jim Loquat is our pick for Unusual Edible February 2017
Eriobotrya japonica ‘Big Jim’
Loquats originated in China and were introduced in Japan 1000 years ago during the T’ang dynasty. Chinese migrant workers carried Loquat seed everywhere they went and it easily naturalized in moderate and tropical climates. The fruit is 30% seed and the high waste factor and difficulty processing the fruit in industrialized agricultural states limited acceptance of its tart goodness for many years. Big Jim is a cultivar of Loquat in the United States for heavy production and small size; expect a tree 10-12ft high and 6-8ft wide. Young trees overbear so be careful to thin out fruit on small caliper branches. Plant anywhere in full sun in the East Bay west of the Oakland Hills where frost is minimal. In places like Walnut Creek and San Ramon protection may be needed, though I have often seen mature Loquats in cities I would have thought too cold. Fresh fruit off Big Jim is like fresh fruit off any tree, just pure awesome. Folks whose only experience with Loquat is canned produce will be pleasantly surprised. Loquat has a high pectin content and makes great jellies and preserves. It has been used medicinally in cough drops and cough syrup for centuries.
15 gallon Big Jim Loquat $128.00 (Feb 2017)