The cultivation of exotic trees: persimmon, mango, custard apple, medlar and kiwi

Fruits such as loquat , custard apple , persimmon or mango have long ceased to amaze on Spanish tables. However, it is still rare to find them in orchards and gardens. The exotic fruit trees that we mention in this article live well in some regions of Spain, so much so that the country exports the fruits of some of them to the whole world. Knowing where they come from will help you understand their temperature and humidity requirements and whether they will acclimate to the area where you live.

Persimmon  (Diospyros kaki)

This small deciduous tree of Chinese origin has its ideal growing area in the Mediterranean basin, although it can also be successfully planted on the Cantabrian slope. It is able to withstand frosts down to -12º (zone 8). The persimmon, although it resists the lack of water, welcomes irrigation in summer, thereby increasing its fruit production.

Plant it in full sun, on non-limestone soil that drains well and contains abundant organic matter. In autumn, the foliage of the persimmon takes on a beautiful coloration that goes from red to orange, before falling; harvesting usually begins at that time. Make sure that the gardening specimen is self-fertile, like those of the ‘Sharon’ (or ‘Triumph’) and ‘Hachiya’ varieties.

The persimmon fruit is known for its sweetness but also for its astringency. This roughness on the palate varies according to cultivars and is reduced the more ripe the fruit is. The least astringent are ‘Sharon’ and ‘Fuyu’.

MANGO (Mangifera indica)

Native to eastern India and Burma, the mango finds in Spain a rather small area of ​​cultivation. Frost can easily kill it, so it can only live in zones 11-12, where the temperature does not drop below 5 degrees. On the contrary, it is a tree that withstands drought well, which is even beneficial when it comes to flowering. Therefore, mangoes can be grown in the Canary Islands, where they are common, and in the tropical microclimate areas of the Mediterranean coast. The harvesting season in these latitudes ranges from September to December.

Under ideal conditions, the mango becomes a large tree (more than 20 meters), whose lush evergreen foliage, formed by long reddish leaves when new and bright green later, provides great ornamental value to the site where it is grown. find.

CHIRIMOYO (Annona cherimola)

It is native to the high areas of Peru and Ecuador, a not very rainy climatic region and without extreme temperatures (-1 to 5º, zones 10-11). It is a small, highly branched tree with deciduous foliage, although it can be preserved in areas with very mild winters. It does not resist frost and suffers from excess humidity. In Spain it is grown in the warmest areas of the Mediterranean. On the coast of Malaga and Granada there are the largest commercial custard apple plantations, which make Spain the world’s leading producer of this succulent fruit.

The custard apple usually presents pollination problems due to the absence of its natural pollinator, which is a typical beetle from its region of origin. If all the flowers that will later form the fruit are not fertilized, it is possible that the custard apples look irregular. In commercial plantations, manual pollination is usually used. The harvest season begins in autumn.

NISPERO (Eriobotrya japonica)

Of Chinese origin, although it is called loquat from Japan, it has been with us for more than 100 years due to its ability to adapt to most Spanish climates; it supports even the calcareous and dry soils. Easy to grow, it is also very decorative thanks to its dense foliage, made up of large leathery leaves with marked veins, which keep the garden green throughout the year. It reaches 5-6 meters in height and grows rapidly. As an ornamental tree it is possible to see it in practically all of Spain because it can withstand moderate frosts (-12 to -7, zones 8-9), although the climates that suit it best are those associated with the Mediterranean and the Cantabrian Sea. It is also possible to see it fruiting in large areas of the plateau; however, late frosts can spoil production.

A climber named kiwi

A climber named kiwi

Although it was in New Zealand that its popularity began, the kiwi (Actinidia deliciosa) hails from southern China. In Spain it can be grown both in the Mediterranean and the Atlantic regions; On the other hand, it is not advisable to do it in the coldest and driest continental climate zones, since it can only tolerate up to -10º. It is a climbing shrub that needs to be fastened to a support: it can be guided on a trellis over a wall or fence, or it can install posts joined by wires to secure its structure in a more open location.

Another interesting option is to grow it on a pergola that provides shade in summer under its mantle of large rounded dark green leaves;
it is deciduous.

Kiwi is a dioecious species, so at least one male foot is needed for fruiting;
one would suffice to fertilize up to 10 female feet. There are also self-fertile ones, like the ‘Jenny’ variety. Harvest is in November.

Green is life

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