Ziziphus jujuba

Accession Count: 3
Common Name: Jujube
Family Name: Rhamnaceae
Botanical Name: Ziziphus jujuba
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Characteristics:
Ziziphus jujuba, Jujube, is a deciduous fruit tree that grows 15 to 50 feet tall with a width of 50-85% of its height, depending on cultivar. The branches have a slight zigzag shape with two spines at the base of each leaf. These trees usually become less thorny with age. The leaves are green, long and narrowly lance-shaped to oval, with finely serrated margins, and turn yellow in the fall. Some cultivars have naturally curly or cupped leaves. The flowers are very small, clustered, with five relatively large sepals, five tiny greenish-yellow petals, and are fragrant. They bloom spring into summer, in the same year their buds form. Jujube fruit has thin skin, white edible flesh, and varies in size from a cherry to a large plum. If pollinated, the fruit has a single stone containing two seeds. These trees may be productive more than 100 years. 
Hundreds of jujube cultivars have been developed, and are grouped by geographic region. Indian jujube  was formerly considered a separate species, Ziziphus mauritiana. Its fruits do not develop a date-like flavor when fully ripe, and most have their best apple-like flavor before they reach full color, which may be yellow, red, red-brown or chocolate brown. 
Chinese jujube cultivars are divided into those grown for fresh-eating, those grown for drying, and those that are suitable for both. These fruit acquire red-brown spots after changing from green to light-green, and become entirely red-brown when they are at the peak of their flavor. Wrinkles develop after the fruit become fully colored, and on some cultivars, just before the fully red-brown stage. For fresh eating cultivars, the taste is crisp and sweet-tart, like an apple, between the yellow-green and red stages. When fully red or red-brown, the fruit can change in taste to a cross between an apple and a date. At this point the drying cultivars have reached the peak of their flavor. 

Compound: Ziz juj
Geographic Origin: China
Ecozone Origin: Palearcticha
Biome Origin:
Natural History:
Ziziphus jujuba originated in China. Depending on the cultivar, the flowers may be pollinated by ants, bees, wasps, houseflies or wind. The fruit attract birds, wild animals and domesticated livestock. This tree has naturalized in the arid climates of Arizona and New Mexico.

Cultivation Notes:
Jujube survives in USDA hardiness zones 6-11, but are more productive in zones 8a and up. These trees need 150-400 chill hours, depending on cultivar.
While some Chinese cultivars can produce fruit without pollination (parthenocarpy) or by self-pollination, Indian varieties require cross-pollination from a second plant. Some Chinese cultivars also require a second tree nearby, often another cultivar, to produce viable seeds. Hand pollination may be needed when pollinating insects are absent or lack interest. Most cultivars flower and fruit in their first year of planting. All will be flowering in their second year. They become most productive at three to five years. 
Propagation can be done by seed, which does not breed true to its parents,  cuttings, or grafting. Jujube trees are often grafted onto Indian jujube rootstock which can produce a deep taproot and thorny suckers from its lateral roots over a wide area, even into the yards of neighbors. Trees should be planted 30' from the foundation of any structure and 50' from water pipes and sewer/septic systems. The roots of a jujube tree can extend 12-25' deep.
The fruit ripen in 2-3 months, a few at a time. The best flavor for fresh eating varies by cultivar. Do not allow the fruit to dry on the tree past the full color phase. They lose flavor and vitamin C quickly after that. The best time to harvest is early morning when the fruit have moisture and a better flavor. In the afternoon, they are dryer and lose crispness. Large Chinese jujube fruit should not be harvested until at least half red-brown. Late ripening cultivars need to grow in regions with long, hot summers and their fruit may not ripen in short-season climates. Jujube fruit do not ripen further if picked when the skin is green, but will continue to ripen if picked after a change in color to light green or another color. 
Ethnobotany:
Jujube has been cultivated and distributed throughout Asia, including India, for over 9000 years. The fruit of the jujube tree can be consumed fresh, cooked, or dried and candied. 


Height: 20 - 50 feet
Width: 16 - 20 feet
Growth Rate: Moderate Growing
Grow Season: Summer
Flower Season: ForeSummer
Color: White
Function:
Spread: Non-spreading
Allergen: Non-allergenic
Invasive: Invasive
Toxicity: Benign
Hardy: Hardy
Water Use: Low water Use

Citations:
1. New Mexico State University -- Retrieved Oct. 27, 2018
2. Duffield, Mary Rose., and Warren D. Jones. Plants For Dry Climates - How To Select, Grow And Enjoy. Lane Publishing Company, 1992.
3. Plants for a Future -- Retrieved Oct. 27, 2018
4. USDA, Fact Sheet - Ziziphus jujuba -- Retrieved Oct. 27, 2018
5. Chen, Jianping et al. “A Review of Dietary Ziziphus jujuba Fruit (Jujube): Developing Health Food Supplements for Brain Protection” Evidence-based complementary and alternative medicine : eCAM vol. 2017 (2017): 3019568.
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Ziziphus jujuba