Spiny deciduous tree growing to approximately 26 ft (8 m). Has oblong, bluntly toothed leaves, clusters of small greenish-yellow flowers, and reddish-brown or black oval fruit.
Habitat & Cultivation
Native to China, Japan and Southeast Asia, the jujube is widely cultivated in tropical and subtropical regions of Asia and the Mediterranean. The fruit is collected in early autumn.
Jujube contains saponins, bioflavonoids, polyphenols, polysaccharides, volatile oil, mucilage, vitamins A, B2, and C, in addition to calcium, phosphorus, and iron. It contains 20 times more vitamin C than citrus fruit.
History & Folklore
Used in Chinese herbal medicine for at least 2,500 years, jujube has a pleasant, sweet taste and high nutritional value. It is mentioned in the Classic of Odes, a 6th-century BCE anthology of Chinese poetry.
Medicinal Actions & Uses
Jujube is both a delicious fruit and an effective herbal remedy. It aids weight gain, improves muscular strength, and increases stamina. In Chinese medicine, jujube is prescribed as a qi tonic to strengthen liver function. Mildly sedative and anti-allergenic, it is given to reduce irritability and restlessness. It is also used to improve the taste of unpalatable prescriptions.
In Japan, jujube has been shown to increase immune-system resistance. In China, laboratory animals fed a jujube decoction gained weight and showed improved endurance. In one clinical study, 12 patients with liver ailments were given jujube, peanuts, and brown sugar nightly. In 4 weeks, their liver function had improved.
The sedative Z. spinosa is used in Chinese medicine to “nourish the heart and quieten the spirit.”