February is not only the month for love, but at the Fruit & Spice Park, it’s also the time for Jujubes. And we mean the jujube fruit and not the little gummy candies that come in a colorful box! Jujubes, Ziziphus mauritiana, are produced on small trees whose branches grow in a zig zag pattern and when they are just starting out there are tiny thorns at the base of the leaves. The small, green flowers will produce lots of 1”-1 ½” green fruits from January – March.
At this green stage the oval shaped fruits are crisp and taste like a mild, sweet apple. If they are left on the tree longer, the fruits will turn yellow and then red. Many people prefer jujubes when they are in the yellow/red stage as they are the sweetest. When the fruit turns red, it starts to wrinkle and dry on the tree. At this stage, they are eaten like dates, but they can also be candied – this fruit is very versatile!
Besides having a huge amount of Vitamin C in each fruit, these fruits also have medicinal qualities, one of which is as a soothing cough suppressant. When the candy Jujyfruits was first introduced in the 1920s they contained jujube juice. It was thought that eating this candy would help to keep movie-goers from coughing and disturbing their neighbors! But jujube juice is no longer on the ingredient list, and artificial flavors have taken its place.
You can find our jujube trees about 100 feet north of the Asian greenhouse on each side of the walkway. Stop by and enjoy the sweet jujubes at the Fruit & Spice Park!