Loquat, Japanese plum, Japanese medlar (Eng); nisperero, níspero del Japón (Spa); nesprer del Japó, nyespler del Japó (Cat); mizpirondo japoniarra (Baq); nespereira-do-Japão, japonesa, magnólio, nespereira (Por).
DID YOU KNOW…? The loquat is considered to be an invasive species in many parts of the world, including the Canary Islands.
The loquat is a small tree up to 10 m tall. It has no thorns, thick woolly twigs, and a more or less rounded crown that is always green. Its relatively thin trunk has greyish, cracked bark. The leaves are simple, rigid, leathery, toothed along the margin, large (up to 25-30 cm long), and have marked parallel ribs. They are alternate and sometimes group together in bundles at the ends of the branches. The leaf blade, which is elongated and either oblong-elliptical or somewhat lanceolate, narrows gradually towards a short leafstalk. Adult leaves are hairless, shiny, and dark green on the upperside, and covered with a whitish-yellow tomentum on the underside. The flowers give off a pleasant, mild scent. They have five petals, are creamy white in colour and bloom between October and February on upright twigs that are pyramidal in form. The stalk is densely covered with tiny velvety hairs and yellowish brown in colour. Loquats are fleshy, egg-shaped fruits (pomes), with a thin orangey yellow skin. The best varieties are more than 6 cm long. The delicious pulp, although somewhat tart, is edible and surrounds 1-3 (sometimes 5) large, shiny brown seeds.
The loquat is a species of temperate or mild to cold environments with a certain degree of humidity. It is an undemanding plant that adapts well to all soil types. It prefers some exposure to the sun but does not withstand the wind well. As an introduced species, it sometimes becomes invasive and forms part of hedges and forest fringes on the wetter islands. Even so, it is most typical to find solitary trees in abandoned fields and old terraces where the original vegetation has recovered. It can also be seen in scrubland on the midslopes, or medianías (zones between altitudes of 600 and 1500 m), both in the monteverde forest area and the humid pine forest.
Originally from the west of China and Japan, this species was introduced into Europe at the end of 18th century as both a fruit tree and an ornamental. Considered to be an invasive species in many parts of the world, including Australia, New Zealand, the Pacific archipelagos (Micronesia, Hawaii), and South Africa, as well as in the Canary Islands. It has become naturalised in La Palma, La Gomera, Tenerife, Gran Canaria and Lanzarote. It is considered particularly dangerous as it has invaded areas of high ecological sensitivity, like the national parks of Caldera de Taburiente (La Palma), Garajonay (Gomera), and Parque Rural de Anaga (Tenerife). Included in the Atlas of invasive alien plants of Spain.