Years of living in Tucson and I kept passing these trees that had burned leaves from the summer sun. I thought it was an interesting plant because the leaves were tropical looking, but I never understood why people planted a tree that got "burned":). This plant clearly did not belong here and yet there it was....all over the place. And then there were those orange fruits on it that made a huge mess all over the sidewalk! Fast forward to this last summer and I became enlightened about this tree from China. For years, I worked at this place near the U of A library and they had a loquat tree. The fruit looked edible but I thought they were poisonous until one day I was curious. When no one was looking, I grabbed one off the tree and popped it into my mouth. Why did I do this? I saw a Foreign Exchange Student do it at the U of A one night. She seemed to enjoy it and not die from the experience. The taste was a cross between an apple and apricot with a big pit. For years I have passed this tree frequently and for years, I've never tried the fruit! To be fair, I never grew up with this plant in Wisconsin.
I like this plant a lot especially because it's very fragrant. What I don't like about this plant is that it looks terrible in the summer when the sun's rays fry the leaves. The U of A, however, had a perfect tree in the middle of summer without the burns. So I noted the position of the tree on campus and the positions of "burned" loquats across town. I discovered the East Side of our homes was the secret to a burn free loquat in Tucson. From my own experiences, the loquat took well to the freeze we just had and had zero issues with the summer because it received afternoon protection from the sun. Loquat trees placed in the Northern or Eastern sides of a building seem to do very well. If you have a loquat tree in the Southern or Western sides of your home and are worried about the leaf burn, don't. This doesn't hurt the tree at all, but it does make it look pretty shabby. This tree is very easy to grow once you've chosen the right spot for it and give it some space as it can grow 15-30 feet high. To be honest though, I've really only seen this tree around town grow to be about 20 feet tall at the most. There is probably a loquat out there that is large, but I have yet to see it. Fertilize mid-winter. It's cold hardy between 20 and 30 degrees F. It's a medium growing tree that will add tropical interest to your garden. It blooms from fall to winter adding some color to your winter garden. It does require some water so it isn't quite xeric. It can be a messy tree so be aware of that issue. However, I think you need to know that the fragrance of this tree is one of the strongest of our plants that grow in the desert. The creosote is known for adding that desert rain smell while the loquat is known for the perfumed fragrance smell in the spring air. It's quite sweet and strong. When I first put the tree into the ground, I thought someone with perfume passed by me, but then I realized it was the plant....and I smiled. So for beginning gardeners, I give this plant a 7.5 out of 10. I purchased this plant for 30 dollars and it has grown since it was introduced into the tropical garden. Some people love this fruit while others seem indifferent. I grow this tree for the scent and tropical looking leaves. The fruits are for the birds:)
Until next time, happy gardening!