Loquat seedlings will grow in most areas of New Zealand, and despite their big tropical-looking leaves, they are surprisingly hardy. They are a sort-of Indo-Chinese mountain apple, and make a great conversation piece, adding jungle-like foliage to your orchard.
They will eventually get quite big so pop them at the back where they won’t shade out the other fruit trees as they’re definitely more of a tree than a shrub.
Loquats are prone to peacock spot and will drop yellow leaves everywhere, something you might see as a problem, something others might call “making soil.”
The leaves can be collected and added to the compost heap, although splotchy leaves and caterpillar damage can be removed to improve a tree’s health. Feed them annually as you would an apple, and as for an apple or pear, prune to shape, removing awkward branches or double trunks to avoid splitting.
In Japan, lengths of loquat timber are used as practice samurai swords in fencing training. It is a light, hard and shock-resistant wood, naturally pink in colour. As light, strong hardwoods go, loquat is a rival to any.
Like other fruit woods of the rose tribe, the attraction is its fine grain, smooth finish, strength and durability. Because it grows so well except in the snowy mountains, it’s possibly a good idea to try growing more and pruning them for hardwood timber.
(their Chinese name is Pi Pa)