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Plantidote of the Day 2011-12-08

twig's picture

loquat in bloom

Eriobotrya japonica

Loquat tree (in bloom)

Every spring, the big loquat trees in the front yard bear fruit. The taste of loquats is hard to describe, sort of like bland peaches, not very exciting. But they mix well in things like salsa, and a neighbor says they make good chutney. Even if you don't care for the fruit, the trees are beautiful -- evergreen, tall (up to 30 feet), easy to grow (Zones 8 through 11) -- and don't seem to be bothered by any pests.

But the one thing that always mystified me was the lack of flowers. Every spring, the fruit appeared, but I never noticed any blossoms. Well ... duh! As I just discovered, that's because the trees flower in the winter. In fact, they're in bloom now. The flowers are small and subtle, but the bees are thrilled! There's one in the image above, up toward the top right.

Which brings us to yet another reason to love loquats -- the flowers' fragrance, a slightly sweet scent but distinctly different from most fruit trees, much more like a sophisticated perfume than anything else. Maybe someday we'll have internet with an olfactory option. Meanwhile, you'll just have to take my word for it -- loquat blossoms' fragrance is sublime.

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Readers, please send twig (twig4now@gmail.com) images and stories for the ongoing Plantidote of the Day series. In exchange, you'll win undying fame in the form of a hat tip! Plants growing in your garden, your house, or neighbor's yard, plants from the forest or farmers' market, plants you preserved, plants you prepared (wine; cider; tea; dried beans), plants you harvested (grains; chanterelles), plants you picked (flowers), plants you dried (herbs), plants you covet or hope to grow someday. Herbal remedies, propagation tips, new varieties, etc.. And if you can, include some solid detail about the plant, too -- a story, the genus and species, or where you got the seeds, or the recipe, or your grandmother gave it to you. Or challenge us with a "Name That Plant" mystery entry ... And please feel free to add corrections and additional information in the comments.

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