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D. Logan
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I am often looking for edibles that the average person isn't familiar with. Things that are either edible only if treated properly or which are so unusual that people don't recognize them as food. An example of the former are the varieties of pear that are like rocks on the tree, but soften after long storage. A powerful example of the latter is the Hovenia dulcis, or Raisin Tree. While I do not yet own any (they are surprisingly hard to get apparently), I do intend to eventually have a few. I was wondering if anyone here had any experience with the unusual plant and it's strange edibles?
 
Lance Kleckner
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Seems like it shouldn't be hard to get, at least is not in usa. Even seed should be easy to get. I also got one from oikos that suppose to be cold hardier, which I think it was some, but for my specific location, raisin tree is more a dream , than reality .

 
Angelika Maier
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I am not brown fingered but my first raisin tree died and the second one is suffering. Water? Soil?
 
D. Logan
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Angelika Maier wrote:I am not brown fingered but my first raisin tree died and the second one is suffering. Water? Soil?


I think we need more info to go on. What type of soil do you have? What is your zone? Good drainage or poor? What are the symptoms the plants displayed?
 
Alder Burns
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I had this years ago in GA and it was pretty much a disappointment if you are into serious food production. The tree grew fast and easily, which means the small edible "stems" are often pretty far up there. They are more chewable than edible, being quite fibrous.....sort of like a date with the texture of sugar cane. You would have to munch on a lot of them, which would take hours, to get anything approaching a meal. The things cling to the tree, so there's no way to shake them down and gather them in bulk, which would make juicing, wine, or some such more of a possibility. Ditto for chickens. So it's really more of a novelty than anything else. Perhaps wild birds might relish them. Or a fun sweet munchie for tree-climbing children!
 
Darin Kirschbaum
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Alder Burns wrote:I had this years ago in GA and it was pretty much a disappointment if you are into serious food production. The tree grew fast and easily, which means the small edible "stems" are often pretty far up there. They are more chewable than edible, being quite fibrous.....sort of like a date with the texture of sugar cane. You would have to munch on a lot of them, which would take hours, to get anything approaching a meal. The things cling to the tree, so there's no way to shake them down and gather them in bulk, which would make juicing, wine, or some such more of a possibility. Ditto for chickens. So it's really more of a novelty than anything else. Perhaps wild birds might relish them. Or a fun sweet munchie for tree-climbing children!


I read you're supposed to wait for them to fall off the tree before eating them. Could it be you're trying to harvest them too early or do they really stick on there good?
 
Alder Burns
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It's possible they might fall off. I was only at the tree for it's first fruits and didn't wait that long. I could ask the people who live there now. Even so, I still think they would be fibrous and parsimonious....
 
Rebecca Norman
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D. Logan wrote:I am often looking for edibles that the average person isn't familiar with. Things that are either edible only if treated properly or which are so unusual that people don't recognize them as food.


I posted about how to make a certain invasive weed delicious on this post:
Eating pepperweed and loving it (Lepidium latfolium)
 
Angelika Maier
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I just weeded around the tree and found that there was a serious injury around the stem, I think that was the cause.
I rubbed a bit of chamomile into it, I don't know why, yarrow might have been better.
 
Peter Hartman
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Has any one had found a source for these trees? I have come across several seed sellers but no one has the trees for sale.
 
Michael Cox
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I've recently bought seeds, but not plants.

I'm not sure how well it will grow here in the UK though.
 
Russell Olson
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Anyone have a good real life seed germination technique for this tree?
I've read up and it seems like there are several non agreeing techniques.
 
Dan Boone
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Russel the seeds I got came with instructions to direct plant without stratification. They did not germinate, not a one.
 
Russell Olson
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Yeah I have found several sources stating scarification is necessary. None have stratification as a prerequisite.
I'm going to scarify maybe half, along with other seeds that need similar treatments. If I need to stratify I can later.
One source said they will swell after scarification and soaking for several days, similar to a locust.
I'll report back, they seem like very tough little seeds so I have no doubt they need some help to get through the seed coat.
 
Lance Kleckner
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yeah, scarifying the seed is a good thing with that hard seed coat they have. Seems like it would be a nice looking tree, but zone 6 hardiness, even my hardier oikos one finally died with the severe winter last year that took out a lot a lot of other stuff.
 
Luke Perkins
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As it happens, I just seeded 15 raisin trees last night that I got from a fellow CRFG (California Rare Fruit Growers) member. He says that they are quite tasty. To germinate he has just nicked the seeds with sand paper to allow water to get in. That's what I did last night. Hopefully I'll get some to germinate.

Useful links

http://arnoldia.arboretum.harvard.edu/pdf/articles/1979-39-1-the-raisin-tree-its-use-hardiness-and-size.pdf

http://www.crfg.org/pubs/ff/raisintree.html


Alder, I think you were eating them too soon. As the previous poster mentioned, from what I've read they fall to the ground when ripe. I'm curious to actually try the fruit and visit my friend's tree, haven't gotten the chance yet. I'll report back on that, as well as my germination efforts. Acid and/or hot water are also viable well to get them going.

There is a difference between stratification and scarification. Stratification is cold/hot- they don't appear to need this. Scarification is damage to the protective coating of the seed- one of nature's ways to get the seeds to germinate at different times so that there is a greater chance one of them will survive and grow. Our job is to emulate the natural process of a seed going through an animals gut or something similar.

If I get a chance I'm going to try and take cuttings this coming year as well.


 
William James
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We tried to buy a sapling of Hovenia and the guy told us we also needed to buy (quite the salesman, not really) a "Evodia danielli" (Korean Bee Tree) as well because it keeps attracting bees in the months that the Hovenia needs them too.

Stupidly, we ended up getting the Evodia but we didn't come back for the Hovenia as it was out of stock at that time.

Pretty rare. Tasty fruit. Hard to harvest I imagine, they get big. I suppose you could keep a lot of them and make sure they're pruned like a bush to ease harvest.
William
 
Joshua Christian
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Whoa, this is my first post. Hi guys. I'm in the UK and although I have not yet tried this yet, it is definitely something I am interested in. There's unusual fruits and then there's....juicy stems? Interesting. Anyway, I know that Jungle Seeds over here does the seeds (www.jungleseeds.co.uk) as well as chiltern seedfs (www.chilternseeds.co.uk) so may be handy for any UK growers but not sure if they can ship to the US.

Thanks to all for the advice on scarification. I look forward to trying to grow these soon and posting any more info I have.
 
J. Michael Wright
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Planted these in zone 5/6 columbus ohio few years ago.
They put on 4+ feet of growth in their first summer. Winter lows and windchill of -11 burnt them back to the ground.
3 out of 5 sprouted from the roots the next spring.
Sofar winter temps have been as cold as last year, not much hope for these little fellers.

Supposedly the fruit will 'cure' drunkenness.
 
Sue Rine
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We've had one growing our temperate climate with free draining,somewhat acid soils, for about 7years. It,s still only about 2.5-3metres high, (8-10 ft). I've never seen any sign of the swollen stems, but maybe I've been looking at the wrong time. All the same, it seems more of a novelty than a serious food sauce...unless it has medicinal super powers?
 
Lynsey Nico
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I planted several of these from seed: they germinate best with scarification in boiling water (2x) and then 30-60 days of cold-stratification.
 
Rob Read
Posts: 88
Location: Poplar Hill, Ontario (near London) - Zone 6a
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I planted these from seed last summer and got excellent germination. Not sure if they will survive my winter.

I scarified using a technique I far prefer to sandpaper or other methods. I use one of those little nail cutter levers to take a couple of very small nicks out of the hard casing. This is just enough to let water in to swell the seed.

I find sandpaper too fiddly (did I just sand my fingerprints off? Did I just go too far through the seed coat? Am I far ENOUGH through the seed coat?), and boiling water too scary (I've done it a bit and had some success, but since this doesn't seem to replicate real conditions in nature, unless you perhaps had a very small amount of water that was rapidly brought to boiling in a fire, which seems exceptionally uncommon.)

I found the seedlings were not appealing to rodents, which I have a problem with predating perennial seeds that have sprouted - especially nitrogen-fixers.
 
Krystelle Ellaby
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Hi, I'm in Australia, Here's some info about propagating raisin trees in my area:
http://greenharvest.com.au/SeedOrganic/FruitTrees/JapRaisinGrowingInformation.html

There's some info about the tree for northern hemisphere at PFAF.org: http://www.pfaf.org/user/plant.aspx?LatinName=Hovenia+dulcis

PFAF says raisin trees grow from zone 5 to zone 9, but I'm in the equivalent of US zone 10, and they grow fine, although they aren't very deciduous here.

I haven't had a chance to have a harvest yet, but my understanding is that the fruit is not edible, it's the stem behind the fruit that swells and is really sweet. I don't believe these stems fall off.
There's also a video about it from daleys nursery here: https://youtu.be/HWyH6fdlJUM

Medicinally, it's supposed to be a hangover cure.
There's research suggesting it protects the liver from alcohol damage. Also suggested it is anti-oxidant, it helps get rid of free radicals, and anti-allergin. references:http://examine.com/supplements/Hovenia+dulcis/

I (I'm not a doctor, not a naturopath) think it might help with detoxing, and may help you feel better if your diet has been a bit on the junky side.
 
Rob Read
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Location: Poplar Hill, Ontario (near London) - Zone 6a
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As an update to my previous post, by all appearances, the raisin tree seedlings (just an inch or two high) I had propagated did not survive my winter. Unless they leaf out exceptionally late (like persimmons in my area), they appear to have perished. My winter peaked at lows around -30C/-22F, and was very windy. That said, the raisin trees were in a pot buried in the earth with a heavy snow cover. It's possible they were not fully hardened off because I sprouted the seeds quite late in the season. It's also possible they would have fared better with a greenhouse for the first couple of winters before facing the elements so severely.
 
Jeanne Wallace
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Raisin tree peduncles do not become tasty until very late in the season, and yes, they should swell and drop indicating their readiness for consumption. They are self-fertile.
It is apparently not fussy about soils and can be fairly drought tolerant once established.
It is rich in quercetin, myricetin and health-promoting polysaccharides.
There are published reports of antioxidant, adaptogenic, hepatoprotective, immunostimulatory, anti-diabetic and endothelial strengthening properties in the medical literature.
There are also PubMed abstracts suggesting anti-osteoporotic effects. Nice review article here: www.thieme-connect.com/products/ejournals/pdf/10.1055/s-0030-1249776.pdf
There are case reports of cattle, and possibly goats, being poisoned by over-grazing on hovenia dulcis, so plant away from these animals foraging areas.
 
Kalin Brown
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This is one tree I have been interested in for years, but unfortunately as space will not allow (1/5 acre) I have had to give up hopes of planting it in favor of other trees higher on my priority list. If I ever get a larger property though, I will definitely be looking to get one.
 
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