Ziziphus jijuba - Chinese Date

raddog(5)October 11, 2005

Has anyone tried growing "jijube" aka "Chinese Date" in zone 5? I always see them spec'd at zone 6 and higher, yet from what I've read they are hardy to -20 and possibly even to -30 if fully dormant.

Is anyone growing them and if so do you have any idea how hardy they might be in zone 5b (kansas city)?

Thanks in advance for any information you can provide!

- john

Here is a link that might be useful: Plants For A Future (PFAF) Database Information

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Scott F Smith(6B/7A MD)

John, I don't think there is a precise picture of how hardy they are. If you want to ripen the fruit they require a long season with lots of heat, so that could be one reason why they are usually listed as zone 6 and above. If you had a protected spot where there was lots of heat (e.g. by a south wall), I would say it is worth experimenting with in zone 5b. Get a grafted variety such as "Li", the seedlings produce inferior fruit. I have some "zone 8" plants I have been able to keep alive in my 6b/7a zone, just by putting them in a warm, protected spot.


    Bookmark   October 12, 2005 at 8:50AM
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I recall reading somewhere that 'Li' and 'Lang' are from more southern areas of China, but there are selections from the north that should be much hardier. I think 'Honey Jar' may be one of these and is certainly worth a try in 5b.


    Bookmark   October 12, 2005 at 11:41AM
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Is 'honeyjar' available at any mail-order nurseries?

    Bookmark   October 13, 2005 at 4:28PM
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Scott F Smith(6B/7A MD)

Roger Meyer is the only source I know of for Honey Jar, thats where I got mine from. He also may have an idea about how jujubes would do in zone 5, he knows a lot about them. Google should turn up his address.


    Bookmark   October 13, 2005 at 10:40PM
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bonsaist(Z6/ Bethlehem, Pa)

Michael mcKonky claims there's a jujube growing in ontario canada... a big tree.. not sure if it produces fruits.. but it's quite hardy.


    Bookmark   October 15, 2005 at 8:51AM
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Who's Michael mcKonky ?

    Bookmark   October 15, 2005 at 9:39PM
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Michael McConkey is the proprietor of the well-known Edible Landscaping Nursery located at Afton, Virginia. He has experimented with many exotic fruiting plants as part of his own interests and his business.

Don Yellman, Great Falls, VA

    Bookmark   October 16, 2005 at 2:00AM
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I would keep them indoors during the winter in your zone. You can also propagate by seed.

    Bookmark   October 19, 2005 at 2:55AM
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I contacted Roger Meyer and spoke to him for quite a while. I even purchased the book he offers, which is an "everything you ever wanted to know about Jujube" -- many, many articles put together in kind of a research paper format. I highly recommend it to those interested in Jujube.

Okay, so anyway, it turns out Roger has a LOT of family from here in Kansas. In fact, he told me there is a huge, highly productive Jujube growing in Topeka, the state capital, and about 35 minutes from where I live.

Roger said Jujube is a VERY tough tree, and he didn't think I'd have any problem with them here in KC.

I'm going to try Diospyros Kaki here -- purchased two from Burnt Ridge. Spoke to the ownere, Mike, about them, and he thinks they'll do fine here. I planted three Che's this fall at the back of my property where there's a plenty of windbreak. I'll have to wait a few months to find out if they took, but hopefully everything will prosper.

Time will tell....

    Bookmark   December 21, 2005 at 4:17PM
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chills71(Zone 6b Mi)


So, how is your experiment going? How did the Persimmon do after last winter? How about the Che or the Jujube?


    Bookmark   November 14, 2006 at 9:52PM
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bonsaist(Z6/ Bethlehem, Pa)

I got lots of Jujubes this year, i'm growing Li. I'm in zone 6, but have had wind chills below 0 and they still manage to survive without any damage.


    Bookmark   November 15, 2006 at 6:03AM
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chills71(Zone 6b Mi)

My wife hates it when I plant things neither of us have ever tried before.

Bass...how long have you had your Jujube's?


    Bookmark   November 16, 2006 at 5:39PM
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bonsaist(Z6/ Bethlehem, Pa)

chills, Jujubes are known to bear quick, but for some reason mine didn't bear till it's 3rd year, and had a good crop of large sweet jujube.
I planted jujube before I even tried them, but now it's becoming my favorite fruit.
Jujube have the texture of an apple, but flavor is remenisent to sweet dates.


    Bookmark   November 17, 2006 at 6:07AM
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Scott F Smith(6B/7A MD)

Bass, how big are your Li fruit? I got fruit off my supposed Li this year and they were not very good tasting and about the size of a quarter. I also got fruit off of some other varieties and they tasted much better. So I am starting to think my Li is really the rootstock - in the first year it died back nearly to the graft and resprouted and I may have been mistaken on where it sprouted from.

I liked the taste of the jujubes that were named varieties, in particular Honey Jar was delicious.

By the way for anyone contemplating jujubes, you really need to watch for suckers below the graft. I have had multiple instances when I realized that my big, bushy jujube was 3/4-ths rootstock due to sprouts sneaking up on the main growth.


    Bookmark   November 17, 2006 at 8:39AM
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bonsaist(Z6/ Bethlehem, Pa)

scott, My Li fruits vary in size, ranger from a quarter to a size of a plum. It has excellent flavor.
I wanted Honey Jar, my graft failed. Does your Honey Jar bear well for your area?


    Bookmark   November 17, 2006 at 11:08AM
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Scott F Smith(6B/7A MD)

Thanks for the info, Bass. I'm still not sure whether I have the real "Li" or not, since my tree is young I could have gotten small fruits only this year.

Re: Honey Jar, I don't have a lot of information because it fruited for the first time this year. Most of my other jujubes didn't fruit at all yet so at least it is precocious. Drop me a line in a few months if you want some scionwood of Honey Jar and any others I have. My luck with grafting jujubes was great in the first year I did it, but somehow I never got the good luck back and have been having around 50-50 success since then.


    Bookmark   November 17, 2006 at 2:28PM
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ashok_ncal(CA z9b)

I have a multi-grafted jujube that produced a fairly big crop this year.

The underlying tree was a "Kima", from Burnt Ridge Nursery. ("Kima" seems to be an obscure cultivar that only BRN has ever offered.) I grafted a "Li" branch on it a year or two ago. This year, with scionwood generously supplied by Scott Smith, I successfully grafted on "Honey Jar" and "Sugar Cane" branches. (As well as a numbered selection.)

The "Honey Jar" and "Sugar Cane" grafts grew into nice-sized branches this season, and the new wood actually flowered and matured a decent crop of fruit. (The graft of the numbered selection was made on a less apically-dominant shoot, and it didn't grow much this year.)

So I was able to sample good quantities of four cultivars this fall.

My conclusions:

I personally find "Kima" and even "Li" barely worth eating. (Although "Li" is definitely better than "Kima".) The fruits are just amazingly lacking in moisture content, even when eaten at peak quality (when the skin is mottled in about equal measure in green and chestnut-brown). At this (prime) stage, I found that I nevertheless had to wash the fruits down with a glass of water, as if I was eating Saltine crackers. I am not fond of this sensation when eating fresh fruit!

And, with both of these cultivars, it seemed that once the fruits reached the "completely brown-skinned" stage they dessicated on the branches almost immediately.

By contrast, I really enjoyed eating "Sugar Cane" and "Honey Jar" fruits. Although both were a little dry in texture compared to, say, a good apple, they had enough juice content to satisfy me. To my taste, "Sugar Cane" was somewhat sweeter and juicer than "Honey Jar", but both were quite good.

Fruits of these cultivars were shared with a number of friends/visitors (not all of whom were necessarily rare-fruit enthusiasts), and they were greatly enjoyed by all.

"S.C." and "H.R." fruits also seemed to retain their juice-content for a faily long time after fully turning color, as opposed to shriveling right away.

The one downside to the above two cultivars was that they both produced fruits significantly smaller than "Kima" or "Li". "Li" fruits were the largest, about the size of a European plum. On average, I would say that "Li" fruits were around two or three times larger than "S.C." or "H.J" fruits.

But, at least under my garden conditions, and to my taste, there was no contest in terms of eating quality. I will probably graft most of the tree over to "S.C." and "H.J." this winter.

    Bookmark   November 18, 2006 at 12:16AM
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Scott F Smith(6B/7A MD)

Ashok, your "Li" sounds just like mine in terms of taste: very dry. Li has been around forever and so there could be different versions. I know that Roger has two different "Li" on his list. He is very positive on Li, probably the source of its popularity now in fact.

I had a similar experience with the Honey Jar, visitors loved them and asked for more. I didn't get any Sugar Cane fruit this year, funny since your wood came from my tree. I also got a few Tsao which were better than the Li but not as good as Honey Jar.

BTW I noticed that the Burnt Ridge catalog has two new jujube varieties this year: Mango Dong Zho and Qiyue Xian. Anyone ever heard of them? They say they are from Northern China and will do well in zone 5.


    Bookmark   November 18, 2006 at 12:58PM
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ashok_ncal(CA z9b)


I got my original "Li" scionwood from a local CRFG member, and I don't know the provenance of her donor tree. You are correct that "Li" generally has a good reputation -- so perhaps there are versions circulating out there that are better than the one that I have. (This shouldn't be the case with clonally propagated cultivars, but there you are.)

The "Sugar Cane" wood you sent me was obviously developmentally mature, even though your tree is not yet bearing. My stock tree is probably older and more vigorous than your "Sugar Cane" plant, which would explain why I got fruit from the grafted branch while you haven't yet gotten any fruit from your tree.

My tree also gets full sun all day, while your plant may be in partial shade. (Actually, the garden space I have to work with is small and shady ... the jujube is in one of the few spots that gets lots of sun. Given how mediocre I thought its crop was, prior to this season, I had really been wondering whether the tree deserved the spot at all. Now that I've tasted "Sugar Cane" and "Honey Jar" fruit, the tree will definitely be given a reprieve!)

    Bookmark   November 18, 2006 at 7:24PM
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I planted three Jujubes last February: 1 So, 1 GA-866, 1 Shanxi Li (not sure on the spelling). They all did GREAT. The So didn't grow particularly tall, but it's easily the most interesting configuration of the three, with an pear-shaped form and enchantingly twisted limb growth.

The Shanxi Li and GA-866 both took off like rocketships this spring, starting at less than a foot and finished growing to about 5.5 feet by September! All three produced fruit -- not a lot of fruit, but fruit nonetheless.

The trees are quite elegant looking at their present size -- as mentioned, the So is very different looking. All have waxy, green leaves, thorns, and a droopy, relaxed look.

I'm really pleased with these trees, and I'm sure once I winter them for a year I'll know a lot more about their tolerance of Kansas weather. For now I give them a big thumbs up.

    Bookmark   November 20, 2006 at 7:29PM
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chills71(Zone 6b Mi)


Do you have an availability list from Roger? I emailed him last week, regarding his plants (Jujube and other), availability and whether or not he ships. If you have such a list, even an older one, I'd appreciate it if you emailed it to me.



    Bookmark   November 26, 2006 at 12:57PM
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nimzo(z9 CA)


Any chance I could get Sugar Cane and Honey Jar scions from you? I live in Northern California as you do. I've probably got something to trade with you that you'd be interested in. Tell me what you're looking for and I will tell you if I have it. We can trade by mail. Also, I usually attend the CRFG SF Bay Area scion exchange. If you go to this year's event, we can trade there.

I have a Lang jujube tree. So far, it has borne very little, and the quality of the fruit has been mediocre. I planted a "Black Sea" jujube next to it for pollenization. If SC and HJ are as good as you say they are, I'd like to graft them to my existing trees.


    Bookmark   November 26, 2006 at 4:58PM
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Scott F Smith(6B/7A MD)

Chills, here is Roger's list as of I think three years ago. I figure he wouldn't mind it being posted. I emailed him not too long ago asking for his latest list but have not heard back.


Li: Beautiful Chinese introduction by Frank Meyer. Large round fruit up 3 ounces in mid-August. May be picked at the yellow-green stage. Best eaten fresh. Best single tree to have. Early fruiting.
Li 2: NEW! This came to me as Li, but the fruit and the tree itself are obviously different from the Li above. The fruit is very large and ripens several weeks later than the Li. Tree has one hooked spine and one dagger spine.
LANG: Large, pear-shaped fruit - late ripening and must be fully red to be best. Some fruit may split and soften before ripening. Leave these on the tree to dry. This is the best for dried fruit. The tree is very upright and virtually thornless.
SHERWOOD: A seedling plant from Louisiana. Fruit is very dense and excellent. The tree is very narrow and upright with leaves that are a weeping habit. Very late ripening fruit.
SHUI MEN: From the TVA project in Tennessee. Fruit is elongated and excellent fresh or dried.
SO: A tree of most beautiful shape. At each node of the stem the branch decides to go off in a different direction. Hence, very zig zag branching. Tree seems to be somewhat dwarfed. Fruit is early.
SILVERHILL: An elongated fruit from Georgia. Very late fruit to ripen. Crops well even in northern Florida.
GA866: One of the selections from the breeding program at Chico. Outstandingly sweet fruit with sugar levels approaching 45%! Large, elongated fruit. Excellent!
SUGAR CANE: Small to medium sized fruit which are round to somewhat elongated. Extremely sweet and crunchy fruit but on a very spiny plant. The fruit is worth the spines!
TSAO: From Pennsylvania with the fruit pointed at both ends. Tsao is the Chinese name for the jujube (actually "date" or "apple"). Excellent, sweet mid-season variety.
GI 7-62: From the Chico Research Program. Fruit is round but flattened to an unusual shape. Excellent, sweet taste. A real surprise! It was named "Chico" by Paul Thompson of the California Rare Fruit Growers.
GI-1183: Also from the research program. Excellent fruit of medium to large size. Late harvest.
THORNLESS: Fruit similar to Lang but may not be identical to it. It is virtually thornless.
ADMIRAL WILKES: From the Capitol grounds in Washington D.C. This plant is one of the progeny from the Wilkes expedition to the South Seas in 1842. Elongated like Silverhill and the very last to ripen.
TEXAS TART: A high acid, tart fruit from the campus of Texas Tech University, Lubbock. Small, very sweet, raisin-like fruit when dried.
TOPEKA: Collected from Mellinger's Clinic in Kansas. Very nice, crispy sweet fruit. Late harvest.
ED HEGARD: From Alabama. Fruit similar to Lang and also virtually thornless.
REDLANDS #4: Collected from an old homestead in Redlands, Ca. Very large, sweet, round fruit. Mid season.
YU: One of the original introductions by Frank Meyer. Claimed to be one of the best eating jujube.
FITZGERALD: From Georgia. Small, round fruit which are almost black when fully ripe.
ABBEVILLE: From Louisiana. An elongated fruit on a very prolific plant. Loads of small to medium fruit.
JIN: Excellent either fresh or dried. Mid season.
PORTERVILLE: An unknown seedling from Porterville, CA. Fruit perhaps in the year 2000.
HONEY JAR: A new Chinese cultivar with small but absolutely unique, sweet taste for use fresh or dried.
ANT ADMIRE: Another Chinese cultivar with elongated fruit eaten fresh. Late season harvest. Excellent.
SEPTEMBER LATE: Used fresh or dried--mid to late harvest.
GLOBE: Very large, round fruit which are best dried.
SIHONG: Excellent, large, round fruit--mid season.
SHANXI LI: NEW! First time offered in US. Extremely lasrge fruit with great flavor. Plants only in 2004
MU: NEW! Introduced into the US by Frank Meyer nearly 80 years ago, then lost. Recently found in an obscure botanical garden.
DON POLENSKI: NEW! Similar to Lang but a better, crisper flavor.
6 NEW RUSSIAN CULTIVARS: 1) Kitaiski 2, 2) Kitaiski 60, 3) Oo Sene Hun, 4) 29-16 TOC, 5) Sovietski, and 6) Ta Yan Tsao (probably Lang)

    Bookmark   November 27, 2006 at 10:21AM
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ashok_ncal(CA z9b)


Sure. I'll mail you off-forum.

    Bookmark   November 28, 2006 at 7:33PM
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ashok_ncal(CA z9b)


O.K., I can't seem to e-mail you from your member page. So why don't you e-mail me to remind me, next January. I will be helping running the local CRFG scion exchange (which will be in S.F. this year), so we could meet there, if you like.

    Bookmark   November 28, 2006 at 7:45PM
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hello, can anyone on the forum send scions of chinese jujube to me in israel in february 2007 ?

    Bookmark   February 10, 2007 at 6:14PM
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