Eriobotrya japonica (loquat)
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PicturesTop of page
IdentityTop of page
Preferred Scientific Name
- Eriobotrya japonica (Thunb.) Lindl.
Preferred Common Name
Other Scientific Names
- Mespilus japonica Thunb.
- Photinia japonica (Thunb.) Benth. & Hook. f. ex Asch.&Sch.
International Common Names
- English: Japanese medlar; medlar (Japanese)
- Spanish: nespereira; nispero del Japon; níspero del Japon
- French: barbassier; bibas; bibassier du Japon; neflier du Japon; néflier du Japon
- Chinese: biba; luju
- Portuguese: ameixieira-do-Japao
Local Common Names
- Brazil: ameixa-amarela; ameixa-do-canadá; ameixa-do-japao; ameixa-japonesa
- Cambodia: tôn leap
- Germany: japanische mispel; Japanische Wollmispel; Loquate
- Indonesia: lokat; lokwat; papalaan
- Italy: nespolo del Giappone; nispolero
- Japan: bipa; Japanese plum
- Malaysia/Peninsular Malaysia: lokwat
- Netherlands: japaanse Mispelboom
- Thailand: lokhwot; pee-pae
- Vietnam: nhót tây; so'n trà nhatban'; ti ba diêp
- EIOJA (Eriobotrya japonica)
Summary of InvasivenessTop of page
The following summary is from Witt and Luke (2017):
Evergreen small to medium-sized tree (10 m tall), with a rounded crown; woody at the base, primary stems erect, young stems stout, white and hairy.
China, Japan and Taiwan.
Reason for Introduction
Edible fruit and ornament.
Roadsides, disturbed land and forest edges/gaps.
Loquat seeds germinate readily under or near their parent plants, forming dense stands, to the possible detriment of native plant species.
Taxonomic TreeTop of page
- Domain: Eukaryota
- Kingdom: Plantae
- Phylum: Spermatophyta
- Subphylum: Angiospermae
- Class: Dicotyledonae
- Order: Rosales
- Family: Rosaceae
- Genus: Eriobotrya
- Species: Eriobotrya japonica
Notes on Taxonomy and NomenclatureTop of page
Eriobotrya is often confused with Mespilus, and sometimes with Crataegus and Photinia. The number of Eriobotrya species is under dispute and the opinions of authors in different countries vary. There are between 15 and 22 species, most of them originating in southern China, the rest in South-East Asia (Janick and Paull, 2008).
DescriptionTop of page
Eriobotrya japonica is a small evergreen tree, occasionally up to 10 m; shoot density varies with cultivar. Leaves on upper surface usually lustrous, lower surface often with pubescence; blades are narrow or broad, 12-30 cm long and 3-9 cm wide. Inflorescence 10-19 cm long, the main panicle axis bears five to ten branched secondary axes, with 70-100 flowers, occasionally more than 100; hermaphrodite, flower size 12-20 mm. Fruit is a pome, round, obovate or elliptical; fruit size 2-5 cm; average weight usually about 30-40 g; but some cultivars such as ‘Jiefangzhong’ average 70 g, the largest 172 g, and the Spanish cultivar ‘Marc’ averages 90 g, the largest more than 200 g. Peel and flesh are white or yellow; fruit apex concave, flat or convex, with calyx cavity closed or open; ease of fruit peeling depends on cultivars; thickness of flesh 0.5-0.8 cm, proportion of flesh usually 60-80%; number of seeds varies between one and eight, but is often three or four, each seed weighing 1.1-3.6 g (Janick and Paull, 2008).
DistributionTop of page
Indigenous to south-eastern China, loquats are widely grown across India and South-East Asia, the East Indies, Australia, New Zealand, Madagascar, the Mediterranean region (particularly Spain and Turkey), and South Africa. Loquats are now distributed in many Asian countries, for example, Laos, Nepal, Pakistan, South Korea and Vietnam; in Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia; and in the Americas, including Argentina, Brazil, Chile, the mountains of Ecuador, Guatemala, Mexico and Venezuela. Generally, loquats are found between latitudes 20 and 35° north and south but can be cultivated up to latitude 45° under maritime climates (Janick and Paull, 2008).
Distribution TableTop of page
The distribution in this summary table is based on all the information available. When several references are cited, they may give conflicting information on the status. Further details may be available for individual references in the Distribution Table Details section which can be selected by going to Generate Report.
|Continent/Country/Region||Distribution||Last Reported||Origin||First Reported||Invasive||Planted||Reference||Notes|
|China||Unconfirmed record||CAB Abstracts|
|-Guangxi||Unconfirmed record||Planted, Natural||CAB Abstracts|
|-Indian Punjab||Unconfirmed record||CAB Abstracts|
|Malaysia||Present||Present based on regional distribution.|
|Ethiopia||Present||Introduced||Witt and Luke, 2017||Naturalized|
|Kenya||Present||Introduced||Invasive||CAB Abstracts; Witt and Luke, 2017|
|Rwanda||Present||Introduced||Witt and Luke, 2017||Naturalized|
|Tanzania||Present||Introduced||Witt and Luke, 2017||Naturalized|
|Uganda||Present||Introduced||Witt and Luke, 2017||Naturalized|
|Zambia||Present||Introduced||Witt and Luke, 2017||Naturalized|
|Argentina||Unconfirmed record||CAB Abstracts|
|Chile||Unconfirmed record||Planted||CAB Abstracts|
|Cyprus||Unconfirmed record||Planted||CAB Abstracts|
|Australia||Present||Present based on regional distribution.|
|-New South Wales||Present||Planted|
|New Zealand||Unconfirmed record||Planted||CAB Abstracts|
Biology and EcologyTop of page
Growth stages and reproduction
Loquat is a long-lived tree and orchards over 90 years old remain productive. In China, flower bud differentiation occurs from July (warmer climate) to September (cooler climate). In Zhejiang, China, the main axis of inflorescence panicles differentiate in the beginning of August, secondary axes in the middle to the end of August, sepals and petals in the beginning of September, stamens and pistils in the middle to end of September, and sperm nuclei and egg nuclei in October. The time span from flower bud differentiation to anthesis in November is 3 months. The summer lateral shoot begins to differentiate flower buds in September, 1 month later than the spring main shoot, but anthesis also takes place in November, the differential duration just spanning 2 months. Therefore, flower clusters of summer lateral shoots may be short and small, and should be thinned. Flowering in loquat may extend over 1.5-2.5 months, and fruit normally ripen about 150-200 days from flowering. In Israel, the loquat flowers over a 3-month period, which permits collection of fruit at all stages of development at a single date. In Punjab, India, Apis dorsata is the main flower visitor. Other species of insects found occasionally included syrphids, houseflies, Myrmeleontidae, Bombinae and Pieris rapae. Fruit set was 15% greater in unbagged than in bagged flowers.
Loquat has gametophytic self incompatibility (GSI) and PCR analysis suggests that the S6 haplotype is responsible for the breakdown of GSI (Schneider et al., 2011). The germination rate of pollen is related to percentage fruit set. There are papillose cells on the wet stigma and conducting tissue in the style, which contains transfer cells and annular tracheids. Transfer cells are also found in locules. Some cells in the inner integument and nucellus have outstanding wall ingrowths. The growth pattern of loquat fruit is exponential, with a rapid growth towards the end of fruit development in spring. The maturation phase is characterized by a decline in acidity, colour development, pulp softening, sugar accumulation and a rapid increase in the fresh weight of the pulp tissue. The fruit produces ethylene at the beginning of the maturation phase. However, the loquat is a non-climacteric fruit and shows no climacteric rise in respiration and no peak of ethylene production either on the tree or after harvest. The fruit does not abscise after ripening but shrinks on the tree. Fruit weight is influenced by the number of days to ripening, heat summation from flowering to ripening, seed number and seed weight, but not number of leaves on bearing shoots. Seed weight is the most influential factor affecting fruit weight. Fruit acidity increases up to 50 days after fruit set and then declines as maturity approaches, resulting in a marked increase in total soluble solids (TSS) and the sugar:acid ratio. In China, loquat fruit growth occurs in three stages and the levels of endogenous growth regulators have been analysed during each stage. In stage I, the stage of slow fruit growth, from December to the middle of February, IAA, abscisic acid (ABA) and cytokinin are maximal. In stage II, the cell division stage from the end of February to the end of March, ABA declines gradually to a minimum, while ethylene, which appears at the end of stage I, increases gradually to a maximum and then gradually declines. IAA and cytokinin reach a second peak at the end of stage II. In stage III, the stage of rapid enlargement of fruits in the middle of April to fruit maturation, IAA and cytokinin are at a minimum, ABA increases again and a second peak of ethylene occurs.
Scanning electron microscopy of loquat reveals that the fruit skin is composed of only one layer of cells. The stomatal openings and base of the trichome are surrounded by small, circular, cuticle ridges. Stomatal differentiation is completed before enlargement of young fruit, while trichomes develop up to the initial stages of fruit enlargement. Sucrose accumulates faster than any other sugars at the beginning of fruit maturation and became the predominant sugar in ripe fruit, while sorbitol, predominant during fruit development, is reduced to a minor component in ripe fruit. Glucose and fructose contents increase as colour intensity increases. Malic and citric acid levels increase with fruit maturation, and then decrease, with citric acid declining at a faster rate. Traces of tartaric acid that disappear with maturation are found in green fruit (Janick and Paull, 2008).
In China and India, loquats are grown at elevations up to 2000 m. Loquats are grown on hillsides in Japan, to obtain the benefit of good air flow. In more tropical regions, the tree thrives and fruit well at elevations between 900 and 1200 m, but bears little or not at all at lower levels. Winter temperature should be higher than -3°C and summer temperature not over 35°C. The flowers and fruit of loquat are particularly susceptible to extremes of temperature. Ovules in early fruit are killed by brief exposure to -4°C. The tree requires 1000-1200 mm of rainfall annually and a suitable level of humidity. Soil should be deep and well drained, with an adequate content of organic matter. Sandy loams or clay loams with a pH of 5.0-8.0 are considered appropriate, with pH 6.0 being optimum (Janick and Paull, 2008).
Latitude/Altitude RangesTop of page
|Latitude North (°N)||Latitude South (°S)||Altitude Lower (m)||Altitude Upper (m)|
Air TemperatureTop of page
|Parameter||Lower limit||Upper limit|
|Absolute minimum temperature (ºC)||-10|
|Mean annual temperature (ºC)||15||25|
|Mean maximum temperature of hottest month (ºC)||25||32|
|Mean minimum temperature of coldest month (ºC)||12||15|
RainfallTop of page
|Parameter||Lower limit||Upper limit||Description|
|Dry season duration||0||5||number of consecutive months with <40 mm rainfall|
|Mean annual rainfall||800||1200||mm; lower/upper limits|
Rainfall RegimeTop of page Summer
Soil TolerancesTop of page
UsesTop of page
Fruit can be consumed fresh or processed and can be used for jam, juice, wine, syrup or as candied fruit. Seeds are rich in starch (20%) and have been used to make wine. Loquat is highly nectariforous, with a heavy fragrance and has high honey potential. Its wood is pink, hard, close-grained and medium heavy, and highly prized by furniture makers. Leaves and fruit of loquats have traditionally been considered to have high medicinal value and there is evidence of pharmaceutically active compounds. The ether-soluble fraction of the ethanolic extract of the leaves showed anti-inflammatory activity when applied topically to rats. An alcoholic extract has been shown to exhibit anti-inflammatory and hypoglycaemic effects. For at least 40 years, Chinese food stores in the USA have sold a product imported from Hong Kong and recommended for chronic bronchitis, coughs and lung congestion. The contents are listed as loquat leaves along with other herbs (Janick and Paull, 2008).
Uses ListTop of page
- Shade and shelter
Human food and beverage
- Honey/honey flora
- Carved material
- Miscellaneous materials
- Source of medicine/pharmaceutical
Wood ProductsTop of page
- Building poles
Sawn or hewn building timbers
- Carpentry/joinery (exterior/interior)
- Engineering structures
- For light construction
- Industrial and domestic woodware
- Tool handles
ReferencesTop of page
Abbasi, N. A., Tariq Pervaiz, Hafiz, I. A., Mehwish Yaseen, Azhar Hussain, 2013. Assessing the response of indigenous loquat cultivar Mardan to phytohormones for in vitro shoot proliferation and rooting. Journal of Zhejiang University (Science B), 14(9), 774-784. http://rd.springer.com/journal/11585 doi: 10.1631/jzus.B1200277
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California Rare Fruit Growers, 2016. Loquat, Eriobotrya japonica Lindl., Rosaceae. https://www.crfg.org/pubs/ff/loquat.html
Chang HC, 1982. A study on the native loquats in Hubei province. J. of Central China Agriculture College, 1:86-92
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Ding CW, 1989. Effect of plant growth regulators on ripening date and quality in loquat. China Fruits, 1:13-15
Gariglio, N. F., Reig, C., AgustÃ, M., 2008. Assimilate partitioning between the flesh and the rind is responsible for purple spot in loquat fruit. Journal of Horticultural Science and Biotechnology, 83(1), 37-42. http://www.jhortscib.com
Grassi, A. M., Scarpare Filho, J. A., Chagas, E. A., Pio, R., Sanches, J., Cia, P., Barbosa, W., Tizato, L. H. G., Chagas, P. C., Tomazi, E. F., 2010. Evaluation of thinning intensity on loquat fruit quality. Bragantia, 69(1), 215-220. http://www.scielo.br/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0006-87052010000100027&lng=en&nrm=iso&tlng=pt doi: 10.1590/S0006-87052010000100027
Gugliuzza, G., Militello, M., Mandarano, G., Talluto, G., Farina, V., 2015. Evaluation of seed germination and seedling growth of Sicilian and international loquat cultivars. Acta Horticulturae, (No.1092), 279-282. http://www.actahort.org/books/1092/1092_41.htm
Harriman W, 1994. Silvicultural practice in Eriobotrya japonica (Thunb.) Lindl. plantations. New Silviculturist, 12:1-46
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Parra, S., Hueso, J. J., Cuevas, J., 2013. High density loquat orchards increase profits and shorten the time for investment returns. Acta Horticulturae, (No.975), 601-606. http://www.actahort.org/books/975/975_76.htm
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QuiÃ±ones, A., Soler, E., Legaz, F., 2013. Determination of foliar sampling conditions and standard leaf nutrient levels to assess mineral status of loquat tree. Journal of Plant Nutrition, 36(2), 284-298. http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/lpla20 doi: 10.1080/01904167.2012.739248
Schneider, D., Goldway, M., Stern, R. A., 2011. Difference in self-fertilization efficiency among three loquat cultivars. Acta Horticulturae, (No.887), 209-213. http://www.actahort.org/books/887/887_34.htm
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Witt, A., Luke, Q., 2017. Guide to the naturalized and invasive plants of Eastern Africa, [ed. by Witt, A., Luke, Q.]. Wallingford, UK: CABI.vi + 601 pp. http://www.cabi.org/cabebooks/ebook/20173158959 doi:10.1079/9781786392145.0000
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Distribution MapsTop of page
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