Characteristics of Chinese Jujube Trees (Ziziphus jujuba) in the Wild

Ziziphus jujuba
The Chinese Jujube or Jujuba (Ziziphus jujuba) is a plant species of the genus Ziziphus in the Rhamnaceae family, which is usually grown for its fruit or as an ornamental tree.

Its exact natural habitat is unknown due to extensive cultivation, but it is thought to have originated in southern Asia, between Lebanon, northern India, southern and central China, possibly also from southeastern Europe.

The Chinese jujube has been introduced to Madagascar and is grown as an invasive species in the western part of the island. There, it is known as “hinap” or “finab” in eastern Bulgaria where it grows wild but is also often planted as an ornamental garden tree. The Chinese Jujube tree is found growing wild in the eastern Caribbean and is reported to be in Jamaica, the Bahamas, and Trinidad. In Barbados and Guyana, the fruit is called “dongz” or “donks”. In Antigua and Barbuda, Chinese jujube fruit is called “dumps” or “dums”, and in The Bahamas, they are called “juju”. Chinese jujube is also known as “pomme surette” in France and the Caribbean.

Chinese jujube is currently cultivated in various places around the world. Altun Ha, an ancient Mayan town in Belize, located in the District of Belize about 50 kilometers north of Belize City and the surrounding forest, also has several varieties of the jujube tree where it is referred to as “plum” due to a lack of better naming among the local population.

In Arabic-speaking areas, Chinese Jujube is widely grown and as an alternative to the Ziziphus lotus species. This tree is also closely related to the Sidrah or Sidr tree which is mentioned in the Qur’an, while in Palestine it is precisely the Ziziphus spina-christi species called Sidr.

Although it is widely planted in various countries and has different names, most Asian people are more familiar with calling this tree the name Chinese Jujube or Jujuba.

 

Characteristics of Chinese Jujube Leaf

Ziziphus jujuba Leaf
Source: flickr.com/Nasr Habib Abdalla

The leaves are glossy green, ovate, 2-7 cm long, and 1-3 cm wide, with three prominent veins at the base, and finely toothed margins.

 

Characteristics of Chinese Jujube Flower

Ziziphus jujuba Flower
Source: flickr.com/Spidra Webster

The flowers are small, about 5 mm in diameter, with five striking yellowish-green petals.

 

Characteristics of Chinese Jujube Fruit

Ziziphus jujuba Fruit
Source: flickr.com/gartenknorze

The fruit is edible, oval, when unripe, a smooth green color, with the consistency and taste of an apple with less acidity. When the fruit is ripe it will turn dark-purplish brown, and eventually wrinkled, looking like tiny dates. The Chinese jujube fruit has a hard seed and is similar to an olive seed.

 

Characteristics of Chinese Jujube Tree

Ziziphus jujuba Tree
Source: flickr.com/Spidra Webster

The Chinese Jujube is a deciduous tree that grows as a small shrub with a height of 5-10 meters, and with thorny branches.

The Chinese Jujube tree tolerates a wide range of temperatures and rainfall, although it requires hot summers and sufficient water to produce maximum fruit. Unlike most other Ziziphus species, the Chinese Jujube tolerates quite cold winters, the tree can withstand temperatures around -15 °C. This allows the Chinese Jujube tree to grow in mountainous or desert habitats, provided there is access to underground water throughout the summer.

 
CHINESE JUJUBE TREE BENEFITS

Jujuba fruit contains many different healthy properties such as Vitamins and amino acids.

The fruit is combined with other ingredients to treat colds and influenza.

The fruit and seeds are used in traditional Chinese and Korean medicine, which is believed to relieve stress, and are traditionally believed to be antifungal, antibacterial, antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, antispastic, anti-fertility, antinephritic, antioxidant, cardiotonic, immunostimulant, hypotensive, sedative, and wound healing.

Chinese Jujube together with Gan Cao (Glycyrrhiza uralensis), is used in Chinese medicine to harmonize and moderate other herbs.

In China, the leaves are often picked to make herbal teas.

Its hard, oily wood, along with pears, was used as a woodcut for the printing of the world’s first books, which began in the 8th century and continued into the 19th century in China and neighboring Asian countries. As many as 2000 copies can be produced from one piece of jujube wood.

A certain grade of Jujube wood is used in traditional Asian instruments. This wood has a medium to a hard density similar to the luthier grade European Maple (Acer pseudoplatanus) and has excellent tonal quality.

 

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