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ntroduced Photo: Ajinkya Gadave
Common name: Loquat, Japanese medlar • Hindi: लौकाट Lokat • Marathi: Lokat • Malayalam: Nespli
Botanical name: Eriobotrya japonica    Family: Rosaceae (Rose family)

It is an evergreen small fruit tree, native to China. It has a rounded crown, short trunk and woolly new twigs. The tree can grow to 5-10 m tall, but is often smaller, about 3-4 m. Alternately arranged elliptic-oblong leaves, 10-25 cm long, are dark green, tough and leathery in texture, with a serrated margin, and densely velvety-hairy below with thick yellow-brown hairs. The young leaves are also densely velvety on the upper side, but this soon rubs off. Loquats are unusual among fruit trees in that the flowers appear in the autumn or early winter, and the fruits are ripe in late winter or early spring. The flowers are 2 cm across, white, with five petals, and produced in stiff panicles of three to ten flowers. The flowers have a sweet, heady aroma that can be smelt from a distance. Loquat fruits, growing in clusters, are oval, rounded or pear-shaped, 3-5 cm long, with a smooth or downy, yellow or orange, sometimes red-blushed skin. The succulent, tangy flesh is white, yellow or orange and sweet to subacid or acid, depending on the cultivar. Each fruit contains 3-5 large brown seeds. The skin, though thin, can be peeled off manually if the fruit is ripe. The fruits are the sweetest when soft and yellow.

Identification credit: Ajinkya Gadave, Ashutosh Sharma Photographed in Pune, Maharashtra & Imphal, Manipur.

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