Ziziphus jujuba

Common name: Jujube Family: Rhamnaceae
Author: Mill. Botanical references: 11, 50, 200
Synonyms: Ziziphus zizyphus ((L.)Karsten.), Ziziphus vulgaris (Lam.), Ziziphus sativa (Gaertn.)
Known Hazards: None known
Range: E. Asia – China, Japan.
Habitat: Dry gravelly or stony slopes of hills and mountains74.
Edibility Rating (1-5): 3 Medicinal Rating (1-5): 3
Other Possible Synonyms: From various places across the web, may not be correct. See below.
Rhamnus jujubaG Rhamnus zizyphusG,H Z. jujubeHORTIPLEX Z. mauritianaB,E,G,P Z. spinosaG Z. vulgaris var. spinosaG Zizyphus jujubaH, Zizyphus lotosH Zizyphus sativaH Zizyphus vulgarisE,H Zizyphus zizyphusH
Other Common Names: From various places around the Web, may not be correct. See below.
Azufaifo E, Bedara China E, Chinese Date H, Chinese Jujube H, Common Jujube B,P, Dara E, Hong Zao E, Indian Jujube P,B, Jujube H,E, Jujubier E, Kan Tsao E, Kola E, Liane Crocs Chien E, Liang Tsao E, Mei Tsao E, Nabug E, Nan Tsao E, Pei Tsao E, Perita Haitiana E, Petite Pomme E, Pomme Malcadi E, Ponsere E, Suan Tsao E, Ta Tsao E, Tsao E, Unnab E, Unnap Agaci E, Widara E,
Systematics: From a UDSA Plants Database
Order: Rhamnales. Buckthorn family
Other Range Info: From the Ethnobotany Database
Asia; China; Dominican Republic; Europe; Haiti; India; India(Santal); Iraq; Java (Import); Malacca (Import); Nigeria; Spain; Turkey
Noxious, Invasive and Injurious Weeds From UDSA PLANTS database, Weeds Australia , DEFRA Injurious Weeds
Listed as noxious/invasive for: Western Australia, Queensland, Northen Territory (Aust).

Physical Characteristics

A decidious tree growing to 10m by 7m at a fast rate. It is hardy to zone 6. It is in flower from April to May, and the seeds ripen in October. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Insects. The plant is self-fertile. We rate it 3/5 for edibility and 3/5 for medicinal use.

The plant prefers light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils, requires well-drained soil and can grow in nutritionally poor soil. The plant prefers acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils and can grow in very alkaline soil. It cannot grow in the shade. It requires dry or moist soil and can tolerate drought.

Habitats and Possible Locations

Hedge, Woodland, Secondary, Sunny Edge, Dappled Shade.

Edible Uses

Coffee; Fruit; Leaves.

Fruit – raw or cooked

1, 2, 3, 100, 158. Mealy and sweet46. A sourish-sweet flavour174. The fruit can be eaten fresh, dried like dates or cooked in puddings, cakes, breads, jellies, soups etc183. The dried fruit has the nicest taste11, 132. The fruits are often left to become wrinkled and spongy, which increases their sweetness, and are then eaten fresh or cooked238. The dried fruit can also be ground into a powder. This powder is used in the preparation of ‘kochujang’, a fermented hot pepper-soybean paste that resembles miso183. Fruits are about 13mm in diameter194 and contain one or two seeds238. Average yields from wild trees in the Himalayas are 9.5kg per year194. The fruit contains about 8.7% sugars, 2.6% protein, 1.4% ash, 1.7% pectin and 1.3% tannin194. The fruit is about 25mm long, though it can be larger in cultivated varieties200. The fruit can be used as a coffee substitute183. Leaves – cooked. A famine food, they are only used when all else fails179. A nutritional analysis is available218.


Leaves (Dry weight)
In grammes per 100g weight of food: Water: 0 Calories: 337 Protein: 11.8 Fat: 4.3 Carbohydrate: 75.3 Fibre: 14.3 Ash: 8.6 In milligrammes per 100g weight of food: Calcium: 1970 Phosphorus: 230 VitaminA: 200 Source: 218
Fruit (Dry weight)
In grammes per 100g weight of food: Water: 0 Calories: 350 Protein: 7.3 Fat: 1.2 Carbohydrate: 84 Fibre: 4 Ash: 3 In milligrammes per 100g weight of food: Calcium: 130 Phosphorus: 168 Iron: 3.5 Sodium: 12 Potassium: 1050 VitaminA: 125 Thiamine: 0.1 Riboflavin: 0.18 Niacin: 2.8 VitaminC: 300 Source: 218 Notes: The figures given here are the median of a range given in the report.

Medicinal Uses

Anodyne; Antidote; Astringent; Cancer; Diuretic; Emollient; Expectorant; Hypnotic; Narcotic; Pectoral; Poultice; Refrigerant; Sedative; Skin; Stomachic; Tonic.

Jujube is both a delicious fruit and an effective herbal remedy. It aids weight gain, improves muscular strength and increases stamina

254. In Chinese medicine it is prescribed as a tonic to strengthen liver function254. Japanese research has shown that jujube increases immune-system resistance. In one clinical trial in China 12 patients with liver complaints were given jujube, peanuts and brown sugar nightly. In four weeks their liver function had improved254. Antidote, diuretic, emollient, expectorant11, 61, 174, 178, 194. The dried fruits contain saponins, triterpenoids and alkaloids279. They are anodyne, anticancer, pectoral, refrigerant, sedative, stomachic, styptic and tonic4, 176, 218. They are considered to purify the blood and aid digestion240. They are used internally in the treatment of a range of conditions including chronic fatigue, loss of appetite, diarrhoea, pharyngitis, bronchitis, anaemia, irritability and hysteria176, 238, 279. The seed contains a number of medically active compounds including saponins, triterpenes, flavonoids and alkaloids279. It is hypnotic, narcotic, sedative, stomachic and tonic147, 176, 218. It is used internally in the treatment of palpitations, insomnia, nervous exhaustion, night sweats and excessive perspiration176, 238. The root is used in the treatment of dyspepsia218. A decoction of the root has been used in the treatment of fevers4, 240. The root is made into a powder and applied to old wounds and ulcers240. The leaves are astringent and febrifuge4, 218. They are said to promote the growth of hair218. They are used to form a plaster in the treatment of strangury240. The plant is a folk remedy for anaemia, hypertonia, nephritis and nervous diseases218. The plant is widely used in China as a treatment for burns218.

We have a more details factsheet on the history and medicinal use of this plant. Email webmaster@pfaf.org for details.

Other Uses

Charcoal; Fuel; Hedge; Wood.

Plants can be grown as a hedge

178. Wood – dense, hard, compact, tough. Used for turnery, agricultural implements etc74, 146, 158. It makes an excellent fuel146 and a good charcoal158.

Cultivation details

Succeeds in most soils so long as they are well-drained3, 200. Prefers an open loam and a hot dry position1, 3. Succeeds in an alkaline soil200. Plants are fast growing, even in poor soils146. Plants are hardy to about -20°c200. Another report says that they are hardy to about -30°c when fully dormant160. The jujube is often cultivated in warm temperate zones for its edible fruit, there are many named varieties50, 183. The trees need a hot dry summer if they are to fruit well, which rather restricts their potential in a country like Britain238, K. The tree spreads by root suckers and self-sowing, often forming dense thickets. Where the climate suits it, the plant can escape from cultivation and become an invasive and problematic weed274. Trees are resistant to most pests and diseases160. Responds well to coppicing146. Trees form a deep taproot and should be planted into their permanent positions as soon as possible200. Fast growing and quick to mature, it can fruit in 3 – 4 years from seed200.


Seed – best sown in a cold frame as soon as it is ripe. Stored seed requires 3 months warm then 3 months cold stratification113. Germination should take place in the first spring, though it might take another 12 months. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and grow them on in a cold frame for at least their first winter. Plant out in early summer. Root cuttings in a greenhouse in the winter200. Best results are achieved if a temperature of 5 – 10°c can be maintained238. Cuttings of mature wood of the current season’s growth, November to January in a frame238. Division of suckers in the dormant season174. They can be planted out direct into their permanent positions if required.


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