Herb: Date Plum
Latin name: Diospyros lotus
Family: Ebenaceae (Ebony Family)
Medicinal use of Date Plum:The fruit is febrifuge. It is also used to promote secretions. The seed is regarded in China as being sedative.
Description of the plant:
Habitat of the herb:Mixed mountain forests to 1500 metres in China.
Edible parts of Date Plum:Fruit - raw or cooked. The fruit has an exquisitely rich flavour when it is fully ripe (almost at the point of going bad), but it is very harsh and astringent before then. The fruit may not ripen properly in a cool summer, though if it is frosted it normally develops a very good flavour. The fruit can be dried, when it acquires a date-like flavour. The fruit can also be harvested in the autumn, preferably after a frost, and bletted. (This is a process where the fruit is kept in a cool place and only eaten when it is very soft and almost at the point of going rotten). The fruit of trees in a fairly sunny position at Kew ripens on the tree in most years and produces fertile seed. The fruit contains about 1.9% protein, 0.2% fat, 47.7% carbohydrate, 1% ash. Fruits are about the size of a large cherry, they turn from yellow to blue-black when fully ripe. The fruit is about 20mm in diameter.
Other uses of the herb:Sometimes used as a rootstock for D. kaki. Wood - durable, pliable, resists rot. Used for construction, general carpentry etc.
Propagation of Date Plum:Seed - best sown in a cold frame as soon as it is ripe. Stored seed requires a period of cold-stratification and should be sown as early in the year as possible. It usually germinates in 1 - 6 months at 15°C. Pot up the young seedlings as soon as they are large enough to handle into fairly deep pots and plant them out into their permanent positions in early summer. Give them some protection from winter cold for their first year or two outdoors. Cuttings of half-ripe wood, July/August in a frame. Layering in spring.
Cultivation of the herb:Mixed mountain forests to 1500 metres in China.
Known hazards of Diospyros lotus:None known
Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.