Tree. Cultivars vary from tall and narrow to wide and rounded.
Productivity exceeds 50 years. One specimen in China
is claimed to be over one thousand years old and still producing.
Moderate to rapid.
30-50' high and 15-30' wide, depending on cultivar.
Very small, clustered, greenish-yellow, five petals, fragrant.
Spring into summer.
Many cultivars are self-pollinating without
cross-pollination from a second tree, but often without seeds or with
non-viable seeds. Ants and wind, rather than bees, seem to provide most of the
Some trees require a second cultivar nearby, especially to produce viable seeds,
including a few that do not produce their own pollen.
Pollination assistance may be needed when pollinating insects are absent or lack interest.
Years before fruiting:
Trees can start after the first year but are most
productive at three years.
Thin skin on white flesh, edible, cherry (small) to plum sized
(large) depending on cultivar, and if cross-pollinated, has a single stone
containing two seeds. Skin is green when immature.
Months for fruit to ripen:
Fruit does not ripen if picked green.
Fruit ripen on the tree a few at a time, over many months. When edible,
they turn yellow-green, then acquire mahogany spots, then become entirely
red or red-brown. For cultivars bred for eating fresh, the taste is crisp
and sweet like an apple between the yellow-green and red stages.
When fully red or red-brown, they change in taste to a cross between a moist date
and a sweet apple, extraordinarily delicious. The fruit is best picked
before developing wrinkles because it dries quickly and loses taste.
When dry, some cultivars are still edible, tasting like dates.
Storage after harvest:
Depending on maturity, fresh jujube can be
refrigerated 2 weeks to 2 months. Dried jujube can be refrigerated as
long as one year.
Oval, shiny bright green, turn yellow in fall.
Zigzag branches with two spines at the base of each leaf, straight or hooked.
Jujube has four types of shoots – primary shoots which grow longer every year,
secondary side branches that wither and die after 2-3 years,
mother-bearing fruiting spurs only one millimeter long,
and fruit-bearing branchlets 4-8" long growing from the spurs.
The primary shoot of young trees has smooth, reddish-brown bark.
Usually grafted onto Z. spinosa (sour/Indian jujube) rootstock.
Can sucker from roots. This plant is considered invasive because of its
aggressive roots and suckering. Should be planted 30' from any structure
and 50' from water pipes and sewer/septic systems.
Cultivars of Note:
All of these are mid-season ripening, unless stated
otherwise. The relative size, shape and sweetness
of the ripe fruit of a cultivar vary by location and growing conditions.
Cultivars developed for fresh eating include
'Sugar Cane' small, extremely sweet.
'Shanxi Li' very large, round apple shape, sweet apple flavor.
'Li' large, round, early ripening.
'GA866' large, oval shape, very sweet, excellent taste.
Cultivars developed for drying and eating like dates include
'Sugar Cane', 'Shanxi Li', 'Li', 'GA866',
'Lang' large, oval to pear-shaped, few thorns, not ready to eat
until fully red-brown.
Cultivars selected for ornamental appearance include
'Contorted' an interesting branching appearance
in winter, very thorny, with medium-sized, round fruit having a sweet/tart taste.
Attracts insects, including wasps, birds, and small mammals.
The bark is generally not eaten by rabbits.
Toxic / Danger:
Sharp thorns on many cultivars.
Southern Asia, possibly China. 11,000 years of cultivation makes
locating origin difficult.