The Chinese Date-Jujube
Jujube is probably one of the most widely distributed fruit plants in the world found in various forms and species even in South America. People have been eating this fruit since 9000 BC. Because of its high energy date like consistency and its ability to grow untended in rocky dry locations the jujube was soon cultivated and many named selections exist. We have seen and tasted this plant in Iowa. There it is highly fruitful and true to its name, it tasted a lot like a date. Picked in December, the fruit reminded me of dried apple in flavor. This is where Oikos Tree Crops came in. The named selections are mostly if not entirely all warmer zone 6 ish plants and growing them in Michigan does not work really. (But I do hope someone proves me wrong.) However there are some very northern strains and varieties from Northern China and elsewhere that could grow here if given a chance. So we started over again this time producing seedlings from a zone 5 ish cultivar as well as known selections that have survived through some brutal winters. We now offer these for sale.
2 year plants grown in pots- This ensures good transplant success as well as providing our good organic soil mix made with Espoma fertilizers.
Plants usually are self fertile. Jujube grows fast and will fruit in 4-6 years from seedling. For sure these will take minus 15 F and likely more. No damage was done to the trees this last winter as it only dipped to -10 F once.
Our experience growing Jujube in Michigan: Starting in the late 80's we began germinating and growing jujube from several different commercial seed sources. We also grew another species type to test. One of the plantings we made contained a row of over 25 seedlings on a steep and rocky slope. We found out that winter was no friend to the jujube in Michigan. This took me roughly a decade to finally admit defeat. Every now and then we still see the rather alfalfa looking foliage deep in the grass reaching a height of 6 inches after 30 years. It was much later we discovered that seed source did make a difference and found a northern seed source from another retail supplier who had access to a jujube collection. The results were completely different. Seedlings when exposed to minus 20 F the first winter and minus 15 F the second winter showed no tip die back.
Seed source reflects the large geographical range of the jujube and the human vector to distribute the delicious and healthy fruit. It might also be quite accidental as people pitched the seeds along the route they were traveling. The seeds take a good 2 years to germinate and this type of germination insures success of the tree in new locations. Little did they know the exit off the beaten track may have become the first food mart for weary travelers.
|Genus & Species||Ziziphus jujuba|
|Seed Source||-15F to -20F|
|Height (ft)||15 ft.|
|Width (ft)||15-20 ft.|
|Pollination Requirements||Self fertile.|
|Soil||Survives dry rocky soil with little organic matter.|
|Climate||Zone 5ish to zone 9|
|Ease of Cultivation||One of the easiest fruit trees to grow and one of the oldest cultivated fruits. Can grow in essentially horrible conditions. Rarely is there a fruit that is care free. Jujube is one. Seeing the on line comments on the death of jujube trees, hardiness is a key issue that our seed grown plants overcome.|