A recent article here about rare backyard fruits described my first experiences with the uncommon jujube fruit, which is also known as the Chinese Date.
No, I wasn’t impressed with this odd tree fruit when I tasted it for the very first time. But despite the so-so encounter with that initial jujube fruit, I was determined to keep an open mind about the worthiness of planting a jujube tree in the backyard orchard or landscape.
Growing Support for Jujube Fruits
My optimism increased when I received a favorable jujube comment from Ben, a member of the California Rare Fruit Growers who painted a rosier picture of the jujube and suggested that the fruits which I had sampled may have been well past their prime. So I figured that I would give them a second chance but hardly expected that the opportunity would arrive as soon as it did.
This past weekend while visiting a friend’s organic farm I casually noticed a container of small fruits as I walked through the breezeway. I didn’t think much of them until later that day when she mentioned her jujube tree and it finally clicked that those were the strange fruits I had noticed in the container.
First Impressions Aren’t Always Ripe Ones
Well it turns out that there’s been a rare jujube tree growing right under my nose for over twenty years. I don’t know how it escaped attention in past visits and conversations but it’s been growing there all along. The fruits mature in the fall and this tree had been bearing loads of ripe fruits over the past few weeks so I quickly found myself engaged in another jujube sampling session.
After biting into a couple of these freshly harvested jujubes it was obvious that I hadn’t given this unusual fruit a fair taste test. The fruits that I had eaten during my previous encounter were dry and shriveled in comparison to these. There was actually no comparison at all and I have to confess that I’ve been converted and am now a big fan of the jujube, and love the unique taste of this uncommon fruit.
The jujubes were about the size of a large walnut and the flesh was crisp and apple like in texture. It tasted a little bit like an apple but I could finally understand how it came to be called a Chinese Date as there was definitely a hint of the flavor and sweetness that you get from a date’s fruit.
Up Close and Personal with a Rare Jujube Tree
Following my quick conversion to a jujube lover status, of course I had to go visit the tree and also check to see if there were any jujube fruits left on it. I was pointed in the general direction and off I went in search of this rare jujube tree.
I had no idea what the tree would look like but it didn’t take too long to stumble upon the jujube. What gave it away, even in the distance, were the reddish-brown fruits that hung all over the branches of this very attractive tree. Although this was a mature jujube tree, it was no more than twenty-five feet tall and looked like it would fit well into the average backyard landscape.
A New Candidate for the Ornamental Edible Landscape
Judging from the fruits that were left clinging to the tree I would also say that the tree is very productive and relatively care free. This particular jujube tree has been growing on its own with absolutely no pruning, fertilizing, or insect control and it still managed to produce a bumper crop of tasty, disease and insect free fruits.
I’m very glad I kept an open mind about this one and wouldn’t hesitate to grow or recommend the inclusion of a jujube tree as a wonderful addition to the backyard orchard or ornamental edible landscape!
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