Loquat is malta eriği or frenk elması in Turkish-malta plum or frenk apple, frenk in Ottoman Turkish meaning European or French. People must have thought the tree originated in the Mediterranean lands. I was under that impression until the internet came into my life.
Loquat or Eribobotrya japonica is a species of flowering plant in the Rosaceae family native to Southern China. It is classified as a subtropical fruit and can easily grow in citrus-producing areas. It was first introduced into Japan and has been cultivated there for over a thousand years. Gradually it was naturalized in many other countries including the whole Mediterranean Basin.
Loquats flowering in November in Istanbul
The loquat tree is the first tree that I came to recognize as a child. At the house we lived in until I was about 9 years old there was a loquat in the garden right outside the kitchen window. In my memory of the place there is a clay tiled narrow eaves in front of the window and then the canopy of the tree. I had grown so accustomed to this tree that to this day every loquat tree I see reminds me of that first tree I got to know.
The flowers have a sweet, heady aroma that can be smelled from a distance. The flowers are 2 cm in diameter, white, with five petals, and produced in stiff panicles of three to ten flowers. As for the definition of panicle: A panicle is a compound raceme that has a branching main axis. The loquat flowers (and later the fruit) are attached along the secondary branches, as a branched cluster of flowers in which the branches are racemes. They can be defined as pedicellate flowers, pedicel being the branch or stalk that holds each flower in an inflorescence that contains more than one flower. It should be easier to just see the photograph.
“The leaves are alternate, 10–25 cm long, dark green, tough and leathery in texture, with a serrated margin, and densely velvety-hairy below with thick yellow-brown down; the young leaves are also densely covered in down above, but this soon rubs off (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Loquat).”
There are numerous cultivars of loquat. The loquat fruit I am familiar with is oval or rounded, 3–5 cm long, with an orange skin that is smooth and leathery. The succulent, tangy flesh is white. Each fruit contains from one to ten ovules, with three to five being most common. A variable number of the ovules mature into large brown seeds. The skin can be easily peeled off manually when the fruit is ripe.
End of April, Heybeliada (one of the Princes’ Islands), Istanbul