Jujube

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Tree Description: Jujube is a deciduous ornamental fruit tree 15 to 30 ft in height with very hard, strong wood. Branches are zigzagged with paired spines (Fig. 4,8) in young trees. Depending on the cultivar, tree growth habit varies from broad spreading canopies to very narrow and upright. The jujube can be easily confused with the Indian jujube (Z. mauritiana Lam), which is a tropical plant of the same genus, whereas the Chinese jujube is a cold-hardy deciduous plant. It is a rugged tree, drought tolerant, has few pests, and grows well on poor soil. The jujube is a worthwhile addition to the home garden because, even when neglected, it produces heavy crops of good quality.

Scientific Name: Ziziphus jujuba

Common Name: (English) Chinese jujube, Chinese-date, common jujube, jujube(Chinese) zao

Family: Rhamnaceae 

Relatives: Indian Jujube, Darling plum

Origin: China and Korea

Distribution/History: It originated in the middle and lower reaches of the Yellow River, and has been cultivated in China for more than 4,000 years and currently, there are 700 to 800 jujube cultivars. The plants traveled beyond Asia centuries ago and today are grown to some extent in Russia, northern Africa, southern Europe, the Middle East and the southwestern United States. Jujube seedlings, inferior to the Chinese cultivars, were introduced into Europe at the beginning of the Christian era and carried to the U. S. in 1837. It wasn't until 1908 that improved Chinese selections were introduced by the USDA.

Importance: The ripe fruits are eaten fresh, dried like dates, boiled with millet and rice, stewed, baked, pickled, glaceéd, or used as coffee substitute. They are also used in puddings, cakes, breads, jellies, soups, sweetmeats, etc. A popular Chinese confection known as ma tsao is made by scoring the fruits, then soaking them in honey or sugar syrup. In Korea, jujube flour is used in the preparation of Kochujang, a ferment hot pepper-soyabean paste that resembles miso. In China, the dried fruit is made into cough drops, taken as a heart tonic or to relieve poisons and, with the seeds, is prescribed for anxiety, insomnia and dizziness. The bark is used to treat diarrhoea and fever.