The California bay is a very tall tree (20-30 m) which is renowned for its many medicinal, nutritional and artisanal properties.
|Common name||Red date, Chinese date, Indian date|
|Binominal name||Ziziphus jujuba Mill.|
|Area of origin||China|
Ziziphus comes from Greek Zizuphon: Chinese date. Jujuba is the latinised version of the plant’s common name: jujube
Description and flowering period
Ziziphus jujuba is a rounded shrub reaching 6 to 10 meters in height and presenting a distinctively fissured bark. Its branchlets are green, spiny and tortuous. its shiny bright green leaves are oblong, tough and deciduous. They present 3 main veins and finely toothed margins. Spines are present at the base of each leaf’s petiole (stipular spines). The cream-yellow flowers appear in small clusters at the base of leafstalks. A honey made from jujube flowers is a famed delicacy in Yemen. The fruits, named jujubes, Chinese dates or Indian dates only appear on shrubs that are at least 4 years old. They are ovoid drupes (a stone fleshy fruit), which are first yellow in colour and later turn a more or less deep shade of red depending on varieties. The stone is elliptical and the flesh is sweet and gelatinous.
It thrives in any type of soils, especially dry soils in full sun.
- Food & drink: Jujubes are rich in vitamin A and C and can be eaten fresh, dried, candied as well as used in jams or liquors.
- Medicinal: It is used as a bronchodilator, anti-inflammatory, tranquilliser and in dentistry throughout Asia, to prevent the appearance of tooth decay. In Europe it is used to treat coughs and constipation.
- Crafts and industry: The wood is used in cabinetmaking and as firewood; the oil contained in the pits is used in the cosmetics and pharmaceutical industries. It is also used as an engine lubricant.
Many Taoist legends mention jujubes as the fruits of “perfect men”. Jujube syrups and pastes were once highly thought after remedies throughout Europe. The Jujube is to this day a widely cultivated shrub throughout the Middle-East.
Translated by: François Saint-Hillier – MNHN
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