Jujube

Ziziphus Jujuba Commonly called Jujube in the United States and other English speaking countries.  I describe the Jujube as crispy like an apple, and sweet like a date. It resembles dates in the deep brown/burgundy color, also when the fruit is dried it’s very much like a date with its wrinkled skin.

It has been cultivated in China and Korea for hundreds of years. It grows wild in Syria and Lebanon where it's believed that the jujube originated from there. However unlike the Chinese no known cultivars have been selected in that region. In china and Korea there are over 500 cultivars.  In the United States there are many cultivars that were collected from China by the fruit explorer Richard Meyer in early 1900’s. Many of these species were collected and sent to the research center in Chico, California. Today there are new varieties that have been introduced into the United States by different collectors from different countries.

I first planted a Li Jujube in my backyard here in Pennsylvania in 2004 not knowing if it will survive our winter. Two year later, it not only survived, but started bearing a nice crop. I was amazed by the sweetness and the flavor of the Jujube. Years later I grafted different varieties to my existing tree. I know have about 10 different varieties on one tree. It’s perfect for limited space.
In spring 2009 I dug up my apple tree and replaced it with a jujube. There’s no need for spraying jujube. They are more resistant to diseases than apples. It’s a great tree for small yard, since they usually grow up to 15 ft.

Not all varieties are selected for fresh eating. In china the majority of their commercial crop is for processing or drying. For the average grower in the USA I would suggest to choose a variety that’s selected for fresh eating. Some people I spoke with who tried growing the jujube, didn't like it. I later found that they have chosen the wrong variety for fresh eating.  Some of these varieties are: Li, Li#2, Shanxi Li, Redlands#4, Chico (GI 7-62), Honey Jar, Sihong, So, GA 866, Sugar Cane, Kitaiska#60, Sherwood, Ant Admire, and Tsao. It is also important to select a variety that ripens early enough if you're planting a jujube in a northern climate where summer is shorter.