I’ve read a little about it online, and it’s caught my interest, but it’s always hard to separate the hype from the reality. Does anybody have experience with this tree?
I have never grown the tree but I had picked the “raisin” off a wild grown tree and eaten it. It is very tall tree, the “raisin” tasted sweet but had some other flavor in it, I am not sure I like it or not.
There’s a large one at the Home Orchard Society Arboretum. I don’t know anybody who likes the “raisins” enough to actually eat them.
The scent of the tree in bloom is very sweet and powerful however, and I think the bees liked it.
I’ve been reading about and hunting down Hovenia dulcis for a few years now…
As the textbook definition of its taste ranges from pear-like (hence its Asian names) to an alluring “taste similar to a combination of raisin, clove, cinnamon and sugar.” Well, who can resist that tantalizing description???
But as these trees are quite rare in the US, I only just recently found a live specimen and was able to taste some of these odd peduncles for myself!
Now, to preface this with a disclaimer, this was in the middle of winter, and so they were probably past their prime and a little desiccated… So, I can’t make a fairer statement on their taste until I try some during normal harvesting time…
But after gleefully locating my first specimen, I eagerly broke off a small piece and curiously popped my cherry! And it tasted a bit like, well, mealy old apples that were starting to soften and dry out. I was rather disappointed. However, they were also a bit waterlogged after some rain…
So about 2 weeks later, I returned to the same tree after the weather had dried out, and sampled some more. This time, they tasted much better! They were no longer mealy at all, but had the drier, chewy consistency of oat rolled date pieces. In fact, they tasted a lot like dried date pieces - but also with a very slightly tart, acidic flavor too. This makes sense as their chemical composition contains sugars with a little acid:
They are fleshy with a sweet crunchy pulp that may contain up to 5% tartaric acid (a characteristic acid in grapes and wines) and 25-50% sugars mainly as glucose. If dried, the sugars are concentrated even further. The raisin pear-like taste with overtones of clove and cinnamon plus their dark brown colour gives them their common name.
In any case, I didn’t think these “cut & paste” online flavor descriptions were very accurate. I didn’t think they had much of a pear flavor. Nor did I think they resembled the taste or (mushier and juicier) texture of raisins, either. And much less did I detect any clove or cinnamon “overtones” in them…?
Rather, I would personally describe them as having the taste and texture of oat rolled dates - combined with some haw flakes (from Chinese Hawthorn) or Tamarind “fruitiness.”
So, would I still want to grow some of my own? Absolutely! Even though they didn’t live up to their overhyped flavor complexity (IMO), I thought they still tasted great and would definitely be a welcome addition to a food forest! And aside from their edible & medicinal qualities - they are also great-looking, flowering trees with high-quality lumber, too.
Do note that they can become invasive in tropical hardiness zones around ~11 or higher (like in Brazil or Australia). But, I think the hottest it gets in the continental US is zone 10 in Florida - so invasiveness probably isn’t a concern here…
I’ve got one. I looked for years and finally got one last year. I kept it potted and finally planted it at the end of last summer.
I have not yet tried the fruit, and I’m not sure how long it will be. The tree is about 4.5 feet tall and looked great last year.
I think it might be the last tree I plant in the ground in my yard. Unles something else bizarre and coveted shows up in my inbox (toona sinensis flamingo, I’m thinking of you)
At a plant sale in Orange County someone was selling Raisin Trees and had a bag full of the dried fruit for us to try. I really really liked them and bought a small tree on the spot. Looking forward to harvesting my own one day.
this species has been on my radar for a long long time, and having compiled the above info, i guess it is time to make my move and place an order with onegreenworld.com Thanks guys!
quite fond of haw wafers and tamarind, and enjoy sweet-smelling flowers, and being a relative of jujus, might even experiment using it as rootstoc. But if for some reason its overall output/traits should fall short of my expectations, i could always use parts of the tree for woodworking… since fast-growing temperate trees with excellent lumber are rare.
while certain it is cold-hardy, my only worry is if the tree can tolerate our torrid, and dessicating summers…
I got mine last year from Rolling River Nursery. I’m debating whether to give it a prime spot nearer the house in order to have a pretty ornamental that might also get big enough to be a shade tree or to plant it out around the pasture somewhere where I wouldn’t hardly be able to water it.
Yea, although they somehow only seem invasive in even hotter tropical climates…I found heat (not cold) to be the limiting factor just in 8a. Full Summer sun here seemed to be a bit too much for the seedlings, and would cause their leaves to start wilting. Although they were resilient enough that watering them then would immediately perk them back up…
So, I finally got one to survive on its own without any additional care by planting it in some partial shade and heavily mulching around it. And at last check about 3 months ago, it was probably ~1.5’ tall and very healthy.
Online, this tree is billed as moderately heat and drought-tolerant. And, I did find this to be true. It was not quite as tolerant as other 8a “xeriscape” natives, but needed just a little more heat/drought-protection (a little partial shade and more mulching). But obviously (like most plants), it does grow more and more tolerant with age/size. So with just a little extra initial care…it should eventually do just fine on its own!
thanks so much for the tips @luxin , much appreciated! incidentally, are you growing yours in TX?
^ Sure, I think it’s a great tree to grow, so am more than happy to share a few tips from my initial experience thus far…
And yes, in TX, which I think is along the southern edge of its potential range here in the US. As I think it would actually be easier to grow north of here, where the summers don’t get as hot.
Which again, is puzzling - since it’s supposed to only be invasive in much hotter (but perhaps also wetter?) climates? Haven’t quite figured that conundrum out yet…
Thanks, will definitely give it a try
Anyone have an update of how their Japanese Raisin Tree?
Mine has limped along… It is in a bed in which it is 20% shaded by a weeping Japanese cherry. The bed was previously growing blueberries, but the pH is pretty neutral. I doubt it has put on more than a foot since my last estimate (2017).
I am going to really push this one growth wise this year. Citrus-tone is recommended (though I cannot remember where I read that). I’ve also just in the last few months added 3 inches of wood-chips. These chips were inoculated with winecap mushroom spawn last September.
I’ve never seen any flowering.
If you have any recommendations or suggestions… Please share.
My Japanese raisin tree is in full bloom this week and is buzzing with every bee and wasp in the neighborhood. The smell is strong, but I find it pleasant. There were some blooms last year, but I didn’t find any swollen peduncles to taste. Hopefully this year there will be something to eat following the flowers.
Keep us posted. I thought about buying one of those.
That looks great. How tall and how old is your tree now, Ben?
I planted it six years ago, and it died back to the ground the first two winters, but rebounded quickly both times. It’s about 12 feet tall now and has about an 8 foot spread. Very pretty tree, and I can see the family resemblance to jujubes, especially in the flowers.
Ah ok, that sounds pretty manageable. It sounds like it has the same proportions as my 4 year old Tam Kam persimmon. I wonder if it can be pruned and maintained at a backyard orchard size.
Yes, the flowers do look very similar, and the foliage is quite attractive. The bee and wasp attraction power is also very real. My jujubes are buzzing right now
Any idea on when the stalks are supposed to drop?