July 2010 home page

Shanti Mayberry | Crest Road


Loquat Tree. Photo Shanti Mayberry

In early May, I received a delightful surprise when I went out on the garden-view deck and was met by a colorful flurry of yellow, gold, and orange wings. Tanagers, orioles, and grosbeaks took sudden flight from the Loquat tree below, where they were feasting on the juicy ripe golden Loquat fruits. They flew to a nearby Torrey Pine tree and lined up on the different limbs to wait until I disappeared from view so they could return to their fruit banquet. I grabbed a pair of binoculars to surreptitiously watch them. It was one of those awesome, “take your breath away moments” that felt like a precious gift from nature.

The lush Loquat tree was the big attraction for these lovely birds. Now, inspired by their lusty appetite, our family is starting to acquire a taste for the small loquat fruits, which remind me of a cross between an apple, their distant cousin, and a kumquat. Loquat trees grow well here, have a generous leafy crown and are quite drought tolerant. They originated in Southeastern China and then spread to Japan, India, the Mediterranean region and Hawaii. A cough syrup is made from loquats in oriental medicine and they are also made into jam, jelly, chutney and wine. They’re high in vitamins A, B6, fiber, potassium and manganese and combine well with other fresh fruits. So if you have a Loquat tree or plant one, leave some fruit and you will have a tree “for the birds.”


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