Jujube Tree – Growing Red Dates

Zizyphus jujube

The jujube tree, Zizyphus jujube, is a 20 foot tall by 10-15 foot wide thorny, deciduous tree. Clusters of small yellow flowers line its weeping branches in the spring. The blooms are plentiful and pretty, but they are not showy. You have to be very close to the tree to see them.

Close up of Jujube fruit in the green stage.Jujube fruit is round or oval, less than an inch in diameter and turns from bright green to brown as it ripens.

Like the flowers, the fruit is not showy.

You may not notice it until it is ripe as the immature jujube fruit tends to blend in with the oblong leaves.

The fruit can be eaten as soon as it changes color or you can wait and let it dry on the tree.

Only don’t wait too long or the fruit will fall to the ground. It is this dried fruit that people call red dates. Fresh jujube fruit tastes similar to apples.

The foliage is leathery and dark green during the growing season. It turns the prettiest bright yellow before dropping in the fall.

While the leaves are yellow they outshine everything around them and are a focal point in the garden.

At least that’s the effect the jujube tree has in the deep south where the fall color of the few trees that change is subtle. It might not stand out in New England.

Jujube suckers in the lawn.

This is a suckering tree that may best be grown in the middle of a lawn. That way the suckers will be controlled by the lawn mower.

My tree is in a bed at the edge of my lawn so I have to periodically prune the suckers away. I would prefer not to have to do this because of the vicious thorns.

Zizyphus jujube is a very low maintenance tree. It tolerates poor soil, drought, extreme heat, and even salt. You can prune it as much or as little as you like. It is hardy down to -20 degrees F.

Jujube Extract

The fruit of grafted trees is much larger.
Jujube Fruit (Ziziphus jujuba; Chinese Date – Red; Hong Zao) 5:1 Extract Powder 100 gm

This is made from the sweet fruit which has a mild sedative effect. It is used primarily as a safe, herbal sleep aid. In China, jujube extract is added to some medicines to improve the taste.

Japanese research has shown that jujube fruit strengthens the immune system. In a small Chinese study, it improved liver function in 12 patients.

The only side effect you may experience as a result of taking jujube extract is weight gain. This may or may not be desirable.

Jujube extract has been used in China for more than 2,500 years.

Jujube Seed

I grew this jujube tree from seed.

Jujube seed can be used to grow new trees. Seedlings will have wicked thorns. There are thornless grafted varieties which also bear larger fruit. The cultivar ‘Lang’ bears 1 1/2 inch fruit at an early age, ‘Li’ bears even larger fruit, but you will wait longer for it.

The suckers can also be dug up and moved to propagate the tree.

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