The loquat (Eriobotrya japonica, Naspli) is a flowering plant whose fruit, is the first fruit of the season in the Maltese Islands. The tree has originated in China and it has been growing in Japan for over a millennium. It is found naturalised in the Mediterranean region.
The small evergreen tree bears sweet and slightly acidic fruit. The oval fruit is a thin yellow-orange rind enclosing a whitish pulp. In fact, the loquat has a high sugar, acid and natural pectin content. The tree thrives in deep well drained soils, and it can live up to 80 years.
The loquat trees that are currently found at Buskett Gardens, close to the walking trail formulated by The Cliffs Interpretation Centre are the direct descendants of the original trees that were planted in 1811. 1
Whilst the leaves and fruit are astringent, they also are also anti-inflammatory and have been traditionally used to treat throat infections. The Cliffs Centre produces the authentic Loquat and Wild Fennel jam every year when the fruit is harvested in April.
1 Borg, J., (1922) Cultivation and Diseases of Fruit Trees in the Maltese Islands. Malta Government Printing Office.