The Jujube Tree

Jujube (Ziziphus jujuba) belongs to the Rhamnaceae (Buckthorn) family. Its close relative is the sour jujube (Ziziphus spinosa), from which cultivated jujubes were selected. Sour jujube is native to the dry mountainous areas of northern central China. Local people gather the small wild jujube fruits for its seeds, which is a potent traditional Chinese herb in its own right, known as Suan Zao Ren.

Jujube has provided the source of livelihood and has enriched the culture where it is grown. They are not only a source of livelihood, a favorite food of the locals, but also an important part of the folk culture and customs. For example, the people worship the jujube god on the first and fifteenth days of the first lunar month, name towns and cities after jujubes, and even create names for their kids that contain the Chinese character for jujube. Jujube is an important component of the landscape where it originates. But almost more importantly, the tree’s ability to adapt and flourish in the tough environment where it is grown, with powerful trunks, strong vitality, and resilience to both drought and flood, makes the ancient jujube trees a symbol for finding an abundant way of life in a hostile environment.


By nature, the Jujube is a tree that is reliable, resilient, essentially pest-free, and extremely long-lived, even in challenging conditions. Plant once, and you could have a drought tolerant crop for 1000 years without ever disturbing the soil again. With qualities like these, it has always been surprising to us that it’s not a prominent tree crop in the U.S., especially considering it has a fairly long history here.

Jujube seedlings were first brought to the United States and planted in Beaufort, NC, in 1837, and then again brought in 1876 from southern France to California’s Sonoma Valley and neighboring states. By 1901, the tree had escaped from cultivation and naturalized along the Gulf Coast from Alabama to Louisiana.

But all of the early imports of jujubes were seedlings from Europe, not the well-developed varieties found in China. It was not until 1908 that USDA agricultural explorer Frank N. Meyer introduced the first group of commercial jujube cultivars directly from China. Meyer mentioned that one of the most promising tree crops of China was the Chinese jujube, and he predicted jujube would be of great value in the semiarid south and southwest United States.



Because jujubes like full sunshine and tolerate hot weather, the southwestern United States is an ideal location for jujubes. Because jujube leafs out and blooms months later than other common tree fruits, it avoids the threat of late frost and therefore rarely miss a crop. Jujubes are drought-tolerant and can survive with an annual rainfall of just under 8 inches, but do need a little extra water than this for better fruit set and quality. The trees can survive extremely dry weather, meaning that even in an extremely bad year the tree will survive to keep producing later.

With such a rich and long history in China, and such a promising future in the southwest U.S., we are thrilled to be able to bring this underrated tree and fruit to you.

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