The Jujube tree is a fruit tree in the Rhamnaceae, or Buckthorn Family, that grows very well in S. Florida. Its origin is southern Asia and has been cultivated in China for 4000 years where there are 400 known varieties. It can attain a height of 20′ and 12′ wide with shiny green foliage, and bears a small oval fruit in late November – January. The fruit is eaten fresh when it is still smooth and green. It has the consistency and taste of an apple. It later matures to a purplish-black. It is at this stage when it is dried and becomes chewy with a date-like consistency, giving it the common name of Red Dates. This tree is extremely cold tolerant, surviving temperatures down to about 5 degrees F.
In China, jujube tea can be found along with juice and a vinegar used to make pickles. A wine is also made from the fruit. Chinese medicine uses the fruit to kill internal parasites, promote liver function, and improve the pulmonary system. In Iranian cuisine, the dried fruits are eaten as a snack.
The Jujube originated in China, where it has been cultivated for over 4,000 years. The fruit is round to oblong and the size of a plum with thin edible skin and white, sweet flesh. The immature fruit is green, but turns yellowish with mahogany colored spots as it ripens. At full maturity, it is completely red. The ripe Jujube looks like a date, but tastes like a sugary sweet apple. Most people like to eat the fruit at the stage when it is yellowish-green with red spots, because then it has a crisp texture. Tests have shown the Jujube to be very high in vitamin C. The trees are 20 to 40 feet tall, with branches that naturally droop to give it a graceful appearance. There are hundreds of jujube cultivars in Asia, however Willis Orchard Company offers the two most popular varieties for your home orchard.