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What is a Jujube Tree? An unusual fruit tree for Texas
No, a jujube isn’t the latest app on your phone. It’s actually an unusual fruit tree that is native to China, but thrives in our hot Texas climate. If you love growing fruit, but have struggled with other common fruit trees, it might be time to give jujube a try.
Jujube is also referred to as Chinese Date tree. It’s a mid-sized fruit tree that reaches 20-25 feet in height. In rare instances, it can get much larger: you can even visit the largest specimen in the entire country at the Fort Worth Botanic Gardens. Their champion tree measures at 45′ tall and 35′ wide.
How to Grow Jujube
Jujube are a great choice for Texas because they can grow in the most unforgiving of soils. While they do grow best in well-draining soil, they also can handle our poor, clay soils. In addition to not being soil-picky, jujube also thrive in our hot & dry climate. Once established, they are very drought tolerant and can live on as little as 8″ of rain per year, although a minimum of 20″ is ideal for a big harvest.
As long as you have enough space in a full sun location, there’s not much else you have to do to enjoy a happy jujube. They do not require large amounts of fertilizer, rarely have pest problems, and do not require intense pruning or maintenance like many fruit trees.
Fall Bonus: The trees have dark green, glossy leaves that turn yellow in the fall before dropping.
Jujube are perfect for production in Texas because they do not require an extensive chilling period. In fact, as little as 200 chilling hours (that’s the equivalent of 8 1/3 days below 45° F) to produce fruit. Many of our fruit trees are in danger of damage to buds due to late frost, but jujube blooms in late April & May, missing most chances of a late frost.
Bonus: most varieties are self-pollinating.
The fruit ranges in size of ¾” to larger varieties with 2″ fruit that is harvested in July and August and can be picked once it turns from green to a red-brown color. Fruits do have a single seed inside, which is where the comparison to dates comes from.
When fresh, people compare the taste & texture to a sweet apple, while the dried fruit tastes like a date. The dried fruits can be stored for several years prior to eating. Besides eating the fruit fresh or dried, there are many other ways to enjoy them, including pickled, smoked, jujube butter, or using in place of apples in various desserts.
The best varieties to plant in Texas are Li’ and Lang’. Li’ has a larger fruit and is known for having the best flavor. Lang’ produces larger harvests of pear-shaped fruits on spreading trees.
If you have been burned a few too many times by late frosts damaging your peach and apple trees, it might be time for a jujube.