Fruit and Vegetables

Jujube - Zizyphus jujuba

Jujube - Zizyphus jujuba

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About two hundred species of shrubs or small trees belong to the genus Zizyphus, which generally reach 4-5 meters in height, slow-growing, of Asian and Mediterranean origin. They have been cultivated as fruit trees for centuries; z. sativa is the most widespread species in Italy, accompanied by z. jujuba: these are large shrubs or small trees, with deciduous leaves, quite small in size, with roundish foliage, usually quite untidy. The bark of the Zizyphus jujuba is dark and the stems are densely branched; the foliage is small, bright green, with a serrated edge. In spring, at leaf axils, the Zizyphus jujuba produces small yellowish flowers, of little decorative value; during the autumn months the small fruits ripen, similar to meaty olives: of green color, maturing they gradually become of reddish-brown color. The fruits are not easy to find on the market, they are quite sweet, with a floury consistency. On the market it is also possible to find grafted varieties, called the jujube-apple, with large fruits, with a sugary and firm pulp. Some parts of the plant are also used in herbal medicine and herbal medicine.


Family and gender
Rhamnaceae, Ziziphus jujuba
Type of plant Shrub or sapling
Exposure Sun, half-shade
Rustic From medium to very rustic
Ground Poor, well drained, calcareous
colors Yellow flowers, brown fruits
Irrigation Abundant, but spaced. It tolerates drought well
Composting Once a year
Propagation Seed, cutting, division, grafting
Parasites Fruit fly
Collection September-November
uses Orchard, isolated specimen, natural hedges

It prefers sunny, or even partially shady, locations; they do not fear the cold, but it seems that the plants cultivated in areas with a very hot summer climate give a better fruiting. These are rustic trees, which can also be found in places with extreme climatic conditions, with a very dry and warm climate.


Jujube is a fruit-bearing species native to tropical areas of Asia. It is very common in Africa and the Far East and throughout the Mediterranean basin. It was once very widespread throughout Europe and was also well known by the Romans (who perhaps introduced it to the continent).
It belongs to the genus Ziziphus, about 80 species, and to the family of the Rhamnaceae, It is generally a shrub or tree that goes on average from 3-4 meters high up to 15 (rarely reach 20). The tip is rounded, but with decombent branches. These are very thorny, with gray to brown bark, not very cracked. The wood inside the cracks takes on colors ranging from pink to reddish. The twigs are tomentose and whitish and develop in a zig-zag pattern. The spines are arranged two by two in correspondence with the leaf axil: one is very straight, sharp and oriented towards the other by about 2 cm in length. The other is hooked, goes down and is shorter.
The leaves are alternate and have a very variable shape, generally from elliptical to oval with a finely serrated edge. The upper face is bright green, while the lower face is greyish and pubescent.
The inflorescences sprouting from the leaf axils, are from 2 to 4 cm wide and are composed of 3-8 flowers: yellowish, with a diameter ranging from 3 to 4 mm in diameter. The stamens appear to be attached to the petals.
The fruit is a globular drupe, glabrous about 1.5 cm in diameter. The shape varies greatly depending on the cultivar: round, elongated or even peripheral. At maturity its color varies from brown to violet. Contains a hazelnut wrapped in a whitish pulp that may be more or less floury. Its taste is reminiscent of unripe apples. Once dried, instead, they are very similar to dates. They are very rich in vitamin A and C, iron, calcium and sugars (they can be compared to figs in this respect. They can be dried, candied or used for the production of jams or pulps.
Flowering occurs in spring, usually around May, harvesting is in full autumn.

Jujube land

They grow without problems in any terrain, even stony or arid; usually it is advisable to put them in a good garden soil, mixed with a good amount of manure, taking care to choose a fairly permeable substrate. They grow without problems even in places with dry and poor soil, but generally a fertile soil guarantees a better fruiting and a greater fruit size. The common jujube (also called Chinese date) is a rustic species that tolerates at least up to -15 ° C (some sources also attest up to -30). The ideal environment for its growth is the dry and stony hills, preferably with calcareous soil. However, it is not particularly demanding. It requires only good drainage, but is able to withstand even rather saline soils near the coasts. It has a rather slow growth and can easily live up to 30-40 years.
It tolerates very dryness very well and is able to tolerate even long periods without precipitation or irrigation very well. For this reason, for example, it was happily introduced in many semi-desert areas. However, it must be pointed out that the lack of water leads to a decrease in yield and therefore less fruit.
Although they tolerate the cold very well, they prefer areas with quite long vegetative periods. If the cold is predominant they struggle to reach full maturity and therefore give a conspicuous production.


It usually occurs by seed, although usually particularly fruit-bearing varieties are grafted onto the trees thus obtained.


In general, jujubes easily withstand periods of drought, even very long ones; the trees that have been planted for many years do not need watering, while the young specimens can enjoy sporadic watering during the summer months.

Pests and diseases

Jujubes generally do not suffer from the attack of pests or diseases; the late ripening of the fruit makes the jujube fruits that generally do not require insecticide treatments. In Mediterranean areas it is struck by the fruit fly (Ceratitis capitata) which lays its eggs under the skin of the fruit when it is maturing. We pay particular attention to the appearance of traces of punctures or tunnels under the peel. It is an insect that can have several generations during the year (especially in the South) and also attack other fruits such as citrus fruits, figs, apples and peaches. It is fought with specific products at the time of laying, especially with cytotropic products.

History of jujube

The common giaggiolo has been cultivated for more than 4000 years in China and arrived in the Mediterranean basin around 2000 years BC He was brought from Syria to Rome under the emperor Augustus (63 BC) who then introduced him throughout Italy and into the south of France. Its diffusion area today includes the South and South-East of Europe, the Near and Middle-East, in North-West India, the Himalayas, the North of China, Japan and the South-West of the States US. Homer in the IX canto of the Odyssey speaks of the land of the Lotophagus, that is, of jujube eaters. This fruit, according to the author, had the power to make people happy because it made them forget even the love for their homeland to the sailors who accompanied Ulysses. According to some scholars, the area mentioned in the book can be located between present-day Tunisia and Libya. It could be in particular the island of Djerba. Today, unfortunately, this plant is likely to disappear almost everywhere in the Mediterranean because it is being used less and less. In reality, until just over half a century ago it was part of everyday life and was the symbolic fruit of the transition between summer and winter products. It was roasted on the fire as it is for chestnuts and sold in paper cones.

Where and when to plant it

The iris needs positions in full sun or at least bright.
When planted in the open field it is used to insert it alternating with peach and almond trees in order to make the plot productive and profitable in the first 15 years.


The specimens are usually sold in bare roots or with a small patch of earth in autumn.
It is necessary to dig a hole at least 40 cm deep (at least a month before to give the soil oxygen and to revitalize itself properly). On the bottom we can insert a good amount of mature flour or cornung manure. After inserting a layer of earth to isolate, we can introduce the plant and block it with the remaining substrate. If this turns out to be too compact or it is advisable to mix it with sand and a bit of gravel. If we are in an area with extremely clayey soil it may also be a good idea to prepare a drainage layer with natural material at the bottom of the hole.
The ideal distance between tree-growing specimens is 5 meters in all directions.
If instead we want to use them to create a hedge they must be spaced from 50 to 80 cm.

Cures during the first few years

At least during the first three or four years water will need to be administered periodically. The best way is to distribute a large amount, but allowing a lot of time to pass between one distribution and another. In this way the tree will be stimulated to make its root system grow very deep and this will make it more resistant to future periods of drought.
Later it will be good to prepare a good mulch based on straw, pine bark and other material. This measure will help the plant to become more autonomous as well as significantly reducing the need to resort to mechanical or chemical weeding.
As we have said, it is a vegetable that needs few resources. It will be sufficient to distribute each year a slightly nitrogenous fertilizer to stimulate vegetative growth. If you want to have very substantial crops this dose can be enriched and you can also add a little phosphorus and especially potassium.

Jujube pruning

The giaggiolo is often kept as a bush or small tree to favor the harvest of the fruits. Usually we intervene every three years in the month of May to eliminate the branches that go towards the center of the plant or in any case poorly positioned. To make it a sapling it is necessary from the beginning to cut the tip rather low and select three or four branches to maintain, possibly going towards the outside and in different directions.

Jujube propagation

The giaggiolo can be multiplied by seed, cuttings, division of shoots and grafting.
- Keep the seeds warm for three months and then another three months in the cold immersed in damp sand. This layering will allow the seed to germinate in the spring
- Place the seeds in boxes in a cold greenhouse. To favor the escape of the first radicle it is advisable to engrave the external integument.
- Germination can occur in the first or second spring. The seedlings must be tucked in small pots to be repaired during the first year. They can then be planted the following year, during the summer.
It multiplies rather easily through apical cuttings taken between November and January. We need to cut a portion of a twig a year at a bud. The leaves are removed at the bottom and everything is placed in a cold box with a very light substrate.
During the winter it is possible to separate the basal jets with a portion of root and plant them directly.
The buds are taken in spring and stored in the cold and then grafted in the spring.


Fruiting occurs from the fourth year after sowing and reaches full yield at the age of 15. In general, ripening occurs in autumn, but the periodicity can vary considerably depending on the specific cultivars. For dry consumption, place the jujube on the grates in the sun for at least ten days.

Jujube - Zizyphus jujuba: Curiosity

The saying "go to the jujube broth" refers to the goodness of that product: in reality it is a lightly alcoholic syrup made from jujube, grapes and apples obtained by infusion.
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    Jujube is a fruit plant that is part of the Rhamnaceae family. It is a plant that comes from d

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