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Orchard Trees of Rancho Los Cerritos: Loquats

Articles: Orchard Trees of Rancho Los Cerritos: Loquats

Form, flowers, and fruits of loquat (Eriobotrya japonica). Author’s photographs

Originating in the Dadu River Valley of China‘s Sichuan Province, loquats (Eriobotrya japonica) have been cultivated in China for over two thousand years and in Japan for over a thousand years. Trade between China and the Philippines no doubt predates recorded history; the Philippines became a key component in the exportation of loquats, after the Spanish took control of the islands and Manila-based galleons began sailing an established trade route to the New World (1571-1815). The preferred route led from the Philippines to Acapulco, Mexico; stops in more northerly ports in California were less frequent, but the galleons traded with the missions and other outposts of civilization as they developed.

Europeans first became aware of loquats in Japan. Employed by the Dutch East India Company as medic and botanist, Engelbert Kaempfer described and named the loquat in 1690. He used Greek roots for the genus: erio for “wool” and botria for “bunch of grapes.” The trees were so well established in Japan that Kaempfer assumed they were ...

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