A year ago I excitedly posted about a seedling loquat tree which was making fruits for the first time, with exceptionally large, delicious loquats. The tree is now ripening its second crop of fruit. I wanted to wait for this year’s fruiting before officially giving it a cultivar name, to make sure the fruits are consistently as big and tasty as its first crop. They are.
Fruits on this tree are big, in the same size range as the largest named-variety loquat cultivars I’ve seen. They are pear shaped, with creamy white flesh, and just one to three seeds per fruit. The taste is really nice, a great balance of sweet and tart, with a rich fruity flavor not quite like any other loquat I’ve eaten. They have a bit of the same peach-orange-apricot flavor of most loquats, but also a distinctive “spritely” taste. I’ve been trying to think of what this flavor reminds me of. Sometimes I think it’s the taste of sweet table grapes mixed with peach, and a spritz of lemon. Other times I think it reminds me of some fruity candy I ate as a kid. Whatever it is, the taste is quite addictive – I keep wanting to eat one of these after another.
I find it’s important with this variety to leave the fruits on the tree long enough for them to develop their full flavor. When the fruits have just turned yellow, they don’t taste like anything special. But if you leave them on the tree for another week or two until they turn from yellow to a yellow-orange shade, that’s when they have developed the full, rich, fruity flavor that’s so special about this cultivar.
A few days ago I brought some of these loquats to local fruit grower Oliver Moore. Oliver has collected and planted out many of the best varieties of loquat that are available in the nursery trade, and his trees are all ripening crops right now. We walked around his property from loquat tree to loquat tree, tasting fruits from all these elite cultivars, comparing their sweetness, tartness, fruity taste elements, flesh-to-seed ratio, and fruit size. Then we tasted the loquats I’d brought from my seedling tree. We both agreed the flavor of the new variety is outstanding, at least as good as the best of the existing named cultivars of loquat, and maybe even better.
So this plant is definitely worth propagating vegetatively as a new fruit cultivar. It needs a name.
I’ve named a few other fruit varieties, usually after the location of the parent tree (‘Turkey Lake’ persimmon, and ‘Sixth Street’ mulberry), or the person who planted the original seedling (‘Anna’ carambola). Since this tree grew from a seed I planted at my own property, the naming possibilities are more wide open.
One of the most remarkable people I’ve met these last few years through Instagram is my friend Ellen Marker, a fruit enthusiast who lives in Norway. Ellen is an eloquent writer, with a unique perspective and a zest for life. She’s like a magnet for attracting kind, caring people. and a community of people has formed around her Instagram account, drawn by her wisdom, good humor, and sense of enjoying life to its fullest. I’ve been amazed by how many people from all over the world have left comments saying how important she has been in their lives.
Ellen’s not one to let living in a cold northern climate stop her from being a tropical fruit enthusiast. She’s posted about tracking down a wide diversity of exotic treats in local Asian markets, including durian, jackfruit, soursop, mangos, and champedak (even I haven’t haven’t gotten to try champedak yet!).
Unfortunately, Ellen has a complex of serious vascular diseases which severely impact her life. She uses a wheelchair, and has repeatedly endured major surgeries. She’s been going through an especially rough time health-wise lately, and hasn’t been able to do much posting in while. She’s getting ready for another big surgery, which has many risks. Here’s hoping Ellen gets through the surgery okay, and that it helps fix some of the issues she’s dealing with.
Of course, Ellen is trying hard not to catch corona virus right now. If you need any additional motivation to practice measures to reduce the spread of this disease, please think of people in fragile health like her.
I’ve asked Ellen for permission to name this fruit variety after her, and she said yes. So in honor of her tremendous enthusiasm for fruits, and for her being a generally great person who’s touched so many lives, I’m naming this cultivar as loquat variety ‘Ellen Marker’.
I am working to vegetatively propagate the tree, both by grafting and air layers, and I’ve shared scion wood with a couple of local loquat growers.
I don’t have any plants of this variety for sale this year. If all goes well, there might be a small number of plants available in 2021.
To get a feel for Ellen’s warmth and charm, here’s one of my favorite videos she’s made, posted a few years ago at Christmas: