Botanical Name: Hovenia dulcis
Species: H. dulcis
Synonyms : Hovenia acerba, Hovenia inequalis.
Common Names: Japanese raisin tree or Oriental raisin tree
Habitat: Hovenia dulcis is native to E. Asia – China to the Himalayas. It grows on thje plains and mountains to 2000 metres in W. China. Secondary forest.
Hovenia dulcis is a deciduous Tree growing to 10 m (32ft) by 7 m (23ft). Branchlets brown or black-purple, glabrous, with inconspicuous lenticels. The glossy leaves are large and pointed. The trees bear clusters of small cream-coloured hermaphroditic flowers in July. The drupes appear at the ends of edible fleshy fruit stalks (rachis), which is a type of accessory fruit. The seeds ripen from September to October. The species is hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs).
Grows well in a fertile sandy loam in a sunny position. Although the dormant plant is hardy to at least -15°c in Britain, it really prefers a continental climate to fully ripen its wood, it is then hardy to about -25°c. The shoot tips are sometimes damaged by winter frosts in Britain and the young growth in spring can also be damaged by late frosts. The Japanese raisin tree is said to grow well in Cornwall, though our experience of this plant so far (1995) is that it is very difficult to establish. Perhaps older plants are as hardy as the reports above suggest, but younger plants are quite tender and often die in their first few winters outdoors. The Japanese raisin tree is cultivated for its edible fruit in Japan. The small white flowers are scented and are produced in terminal cymes. The plant is heat tolerant in zones 8 through 5. (Plant Hardiness Zones show how well plants withstand cold winter temperatures. Plant Heat Zones show when plants would start suffering from the heat. The Plant Heat Zone map is based on the number of “heat days” experienced in a given area where the temperature climbs to over 86 degrees F (30°C). At this temperature, many plants begin to suffer physiological damage. Heat Zones range from 1 (no heat days) to 12 (210 or more heat days). For example Heat Zone. 11-1 indicates that the plant is heat tolerant in zones 11 through 1.) For polyculture design as well as the above-ground architecture (form – tree, shrub etc. and size shown above) information on the habit and root pattern is also useful and given here if available. The plant growth habit is a standard with a non-suckering single trunk.
Fruit – raw or cooked. They can be dried when they have the sweet flavour and texture of raisins and can be used similarly. The fruit is sweet and fragrant with a pear-like flavour. Dry and sub-acid. It is not a true fruit but a swollen receptacle. The fruit is up to 3cm long, it contains 11.4% glucose, 4.7% fructose and 12.6% sucrose. A sweet extract of the seed, boughs and young leaves is used as a substitute for honey. The seed contains 15% protein and 7.8% fat
The fleshy rachis of the infructescence is sweet, fragrant and is edible raw or cooked. Dried, they look and taste like raisins. An extract of the seeds, bough and young leaves can be used as a substitute for honey and is used for making wine and candy.
Antispasmodic, febrifuge, laxative. The fruit is antispasmodic, febrifuge, laxative and diuretic. The seeds are diuretic and are used in the treatment of alcohol overdose. The seeds are used to relieve intoxication due to wine. The stem bark is used in the treatment of rectal diseases. It has been used in traditional Chinese, Korean, and Japanese medicines to treat fever, parasitic infection, as a laxative, and a treatment of liver diseases, and as a hangover treatment.
The wood is hard and fine grained. It is good for making furniture and building construction.
Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.