1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Jujube

JUJUBE. Under this name the fruits of at least two species of Zizyphus are usually described, namely, Z. vulgaris and Z. Jujuba.[1] The genus is a member of the natural order Anacardiaceae. The species are small trees or shrubs, armed with sharp, straight, or hooked spines, having alternate leaves, and fruits which are in most of the species edible, and have an agreeable acid taste; this is especially the case with those of the two species mentioned above.

Z. vulgaris is a tree about 20 feet high, extensively cultivated in many parts of Southern Europe, also in Western Asia, China and Japan. In India it extends from the Punjab to the north-western frontier, ascending in the Punjab Himalaya to a height of 6500 feet, and is found both in the wild and cultivated state. The plant is grown almost exclusively for the sake of its fruit, which both in size and shape resembles a moderate-sized plum; at first the fruits are green, but as they ripen they become of a reddish-brown colour on the outside and yellow within. They ripen in September, when they are gathered and preserved by storing in a dry place; after a time the pulp becomes much softer and sweeter than when fresh. Jujube fruits when carefully dried will keep for a long time, and retain their refreshing acid flavour, on account of which they are much valued in the countries of the Mediterranean region as a winter dessert fruit; and, besides, they are nutritive and demulcent. At one time a decoction was prepared from them and recommended in pectoral complaints. A kind of thick paste, known as jujube paste, was also made of a composition of gum arabic and sugar dissolved in a decoction of jujube fruit evaporated to the proper consistency.

Z. Jujuba is a tree averaging from 30 to 50 ft. high, found both wild and cultivated in China, the Malay Archipelago, Ceylon, India, tropical Africa and Australia. Many varieties are cultivated by the Chinese, who distinguish them by the shape and size of their fruits, which are not only much valued as dessert fruit in China, but are also occasionally exported to England.

As seen in commerce jujube fruits are about the size of a small filbert, having a reddish-brown, shining, somewhat wrinkled exterior, and a yellow or gingerbread coloured pulp enclosing a hard elongated stone.

The fruits of Zizyphus do not enter into the composition of the lozenges now known as jujubes which are usually made of gum-arabic, gelatin, &c., and variously flavoured.

  1. The med. Lat. jujuba is a much altered form of the Gr. ζίζυφον