Also known as lotus tree, this deciduous shrub or small  tree is a member of the buckthorn family, Rhamnaceae, and is native to the arid and semi arid areas of the Mediterranean area where it grows in woodlands, shrublands, and semi-steepes.  The plant grow 5-16′ tall and has a deep taproot and smooth, zigzag, whitish branches bearing pairs of thin recurved thorns that are of unequal length and situated at the base of each leaf.  The small leathery leaves have a thin cuticle and are ovate-oblong, nearly 2-ranked, and about 1/2″ long.  In late spring to early summer, axillary clusters of small greenish flowers appear and give rise to a yellow,  globose, pea-sized drupe that bears 2 seeds and is edible.  Leaves, flowers, and stems are filled with mucilage.  The plants  respond well to coppicing and spread by root suckers and self-sowing, often forming dense unwanted thickets, and may be considered invasive. The density and thorniness of the branches combined with the rapid growth to maturity makes it a good choice for a hedge.  In addition, the plants are valuable for erosion control, fuel, and as a component in medicines.  Wild jujube is thought to be the lotus tree mentioned by Homer in the Odyssey.  The genus name, Zizphus, is derived from the Persian name zizfum. The specific epithet,  lotus, is from the Greek word lōtos, used to denote certain plants.

Type: Deciduous shrub or small tree

Outstanding Feature: Adaptability

Form: Rounded

Growth Rate: Rapid

Bloom: Axillary clusters of small greenish flowers in late spring to early summer

Size: 5-16′ H

Light: Full sun

Soil: Average to lean, medium moist to dry, well-drained; tolerates alkalinity and drought

Hardiness: Zones 11 and warmer

Care: Low maintenance

Pests and Diseases: None of significance

Propagation: Fresh stratified seed, division of suckers in dormant season, hardwood cuttings in winter

Outstanding Selections: Unavailable

Photo Credit: Wikipedia

By Karen