How do you know a plant is not in its native region? Well, when it blooms and sets fruit just before the coldest part of the year, then it is a pretty clear indication that it is not adapted to the region. That is the case with Loquats (Eriobotrya japonica). This species originated in central and southern China. Typically in our region it is planted as an ornamental tree, not one that is expected to produce fruit. The flowers are white and fragrant. They are arranged in panicles that may contain up to 100 flowers (see images below).
Temperatures below 27 F can kill flowers and fruit. Hopefully we won’t see those temperatures for awhile yet. Last year, the winter was so mild some loquat trees produced ripe fruit. The tree itself is more cold hardy, usually tolerating temperatures as low as 10 F.
Pollination of loquat flowers is done by insects like bees and flies. A single tree can produce fruit, but cross-pollination usually improves the amount and quality of the fruit.
Although loquat trees grow in temperate and subtropical areas, they may not always produce a crop if temperatures are cold enough. So, enjoy your blooming loquats while you can — they won’t last forever.