びわ【枇杷】


Eriobotrya japonica (Thunb.), the loquat, or Japanese medlar or Japanese plum

This tree is native to southeastern China and possibly the southern end of Japan, but it is widely cultivated. The photograph was taken in Sano, on the north edge of the Kanto Plain, in late June 2000. The tree is evergreen, with distinctly ribbed leaves, and grows to 5 or 10 metres high. The fruit, also easily available in Japanese supermarkets, is small (3 or 4 cm long), pale tangerine-coloured, and pear-shaped, sometimes with a single almost spherical stone in the centre (1 cm dia.), other times with two or three. The taste is quite delicate, but distinctive, with a pleasant tartness. (The kernels are said to be poisonous if cracked open and eaten in large quantities.)

The "Thunb." in the Latin name is after Thunberg, though the plant was first described to the West by his predecessor Kaempfer.

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the English word loquat comes from the Cantonese luh kwat. Kenkyusha's English-Japanese Dictionary for the General Reader gives the kanji for this word as 櫨橘, though Morohashi's 大漢和辞典 defines 櫨橘 as "はなたちばな," which may or may not be the same thing as 枇杷, and instead gives 盧橘 as being equivalent to 枇杷. The Japanese readings of both 櫨橘 and 盧橘 are ロキツ.

There is a very detailed web page on loquats at Purdue University


This entry was created by Brian Chandler.


Created 2000-07-04.


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