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Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

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Eriobotrya japonica, a medium-sized, evergreen tree of the rose family. Its yellow/orange/apricot-coloured fruit (a pome, i.e. a fruit of the same type as the related apple or pear) is oval or pear shaped and up to 8 cm (3") long, with large, hard seeds. The flesh can be either apricot or, less often but more delicious, cream coloured. The fruit looks slightly like the related medlar, and the two are often confused; indeed, the loquat is sometimes called ‘Japanese medlar’.

The species had its origins in China, where it has been cultivated for over 1,000 years. Tolerant of both tropical heat (although preferring hillsides in very hot regions) and of a certain degree of winter frost, it gradually spread through E. Asia and India, and reached Europe in the 18th century. It is now grown on a small scale all around the Mediterranean, and also in Australia, and S. and C. America.