Friday, April 18, 2014

Fruit of the Month: Loquats

the underrated loquat, eriobotrya japonica

It is hard to find loquats at the greengrocer in the English-speaking world, but in Italy in early spring you will see these small, oval, thin-skinned, apricot-coloured fruits even in supermarkets. They are native to China, were naturalized in Japan and have been cultivated in the West for quite some time.
Here they are called nespole, the tree a nespolo.

The nespola is a delicious fruit, sweet and tart at the same time, and very juicy when at its best. It has large, shiny brown pits. Italians peel the fruit before eating. The smaller, locally-grown varieties tend to have more flavour than the imported ones.

I mention all this with a degree of wistfulness. At Le Ripe we planted two loquat trees; two are needed for impollination. Although the tree is quite ugly (lugubrious is the adjective that comes to mind), we love the fruit and hoped to grow our own. Sad to say, the trees were planted in the colder part of the orchard (because less in view) but are consequently prey to frost when they bud in February-March.  
I fear we lacked the courage of our convictions and will never see an apricot-coloured loquat in Le Ripe's orchard!


  1. Poor, maligned nespolo. I don't think that it is such an ugly tree! In addition, its leaves are evergreen, so they add colour to the orchard for the many months when the other fruit trees look quite unrewarding.

  2. The evergreen aspect is indeed an advantage in some respects. The leaves in the photo above are pale spring green, but they will darken and become leathery-looking as the season advances. When the tree is full-grown it is very sombre. One often sees loquats in shady city gardens alongside the magnolia or the evergreen oak: dark gardens which are gloomy rather than uplifting. But this is a personal impression.

  3. As usual we have a feast of information and beautiful photos in the masterly entries on the often overlooked loquat tree (nespolo)and its flavoursome fruit; the apparent gardening and horticultural prowess of Shakespeare; subterranean Siena which is fascinating; production of chipped wood mulch and early Spring at Le Ripe; Garmugia the wonderful soup from Lucca; and the Wool Guild dating from 1308 and its building,which now houses the Societa Dantesca, in Firenze.

  4. Loquats grow very well here in NZ. Our original tree provides much fruit and a favourite roosting spot for one of the hens - we fancy she watches television through the window from her perch. After about 3 years we began digging up the new trees that sprIng from the fallen fruit and from them we're developing a bank of loquats. They're handsome trees and the copious fruit is a great source of food for our birds (and our fruit salads).

  5. The excellent descriptions of the Local Trees And Bushes at Le Ripe (25-07-2014), with the lovely
    photography and such a wealth of botanical information,make this another very special addition to the blogs From A Tuscan Hillside.We await the next one.


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