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Japanese Raisin Tree
Native to East Asia, the Japanese Raisin tree is a tall, slender and fast growing tree reaching 8-10 metres.
The part eaten is not the fruit, which is a small dry pod containing a few flat seeds, but the swollen branch tips, which have a juicy and crunchy texture and a flavour somewhat like raisins or pears. We have tried selections of this tree while in Australia which were mouth-puckeringly astringent, but these plants come from New Zealand trees with tasty sweet fruit.
They are best eaten fresh but can also be used in baking as you would raisins or other dried fruit. They are ready in late autumn and winter so they are good trees for helping provide year round food supply.
Another low maintenance tree, with low fertilizer needs and a tolerance of most soil types. Deciduous and cold hardy anywhere in Aotearoa. Full sun is needed for trees to grow well and for fruit to ripen. Fruiting should begin in 4-6 years.
The lower branches self prune as the tree grows so you are left with a smooth trunk and high canopy, making them a fantastic tree for syntropic systems as an early- to mid-succession emergent tree, providing dappled shade and leaving lots of space underneath for other plants.