by Texas Homesteader
When we obtained our remote-pasture property last year I knew there was once an old homestead on the property years ago – the house long gone now.
I love that this property also has an old 1880’s barn. That’s my favorite barn era and I’m so blessed to have two of these beautiful old barns now! I’m ready to roll up my sleeves & restore this beautiful structure to its previous glory much like we did years ago with the 1880’s barn here on our homestead.
Past Lives Lived On This Land
In walking around the property I can see the original animal pens and where old outbuildings were erected. I can almost see the lives once lived on this very land.
There’s remnants of the old house, probably bulldozed down decades ago. Standing there I can see the overgrown layout they apparently used for their pens, garden area, and what appeared to be an orchard with some kind of fruit trees – only a tangled thicket now.
Old Tangled-Thicket Orchard
An old timer that still lives close to the property told me the old homestead used to raise fruit trees in that orchard, although he couldn’t remember what kind.
Our Awesome Extension Agent
Since I couldn’t tell what kind of trees they were I contacted our extension agent. She then consulted with master naturalists to try to solve the mystery.
The master naturalists studied pictures I sent them of the limb structure & the leaves. These trees had thick, heavy, glossy-green leaves. I found it interesting that there were three veins running the length of each leaf.
They also studied the photos I sent of the bark, looking for clues to the tree’s identity.
Mystery Tree’s Fruit
The immature fruit emerged around May/June, looking much like an olive in size, shape and color.
Inside each tiny fruit was a small pit, sharply pointed at both ends.
In late August, the fruits began to ripen, turning mottled green/dark red at first, then a deep red/brown color.
They seemed very sweet to the taste, and the texture was similar to a spongy apple. The taste was also somewhat similar to apple, but much sweeter.
Important Note: These trees and their fruits were properly identified by my extension agent BEFORE I attempted to taste them! Never sample unidentified fruit or berries – they could be toxic!
Answer Received: Jujube Tree
The answer was finally received – a Jujube tree! I’d never heard of them so I hit the internet to see what I could find out.
I read that they are also referred to as a Japanese Date, introduced to the U.S. back in the 1800’s. Many old homesteads in Texas grew them as they have little to no natural pests and can survive and even produce prolifically with very little water.
I’m enamored with these little fruits and I’m looking for ways to preserve them. They can be dehydrated and used in similar ways as raisins. That really appeals to me since raisins are often purchased for use in my homemade granola as well as desserts for a natural sweetener. Here’s a way I can provide that sweet flavor on my own.
I’m experimenting with different ways to preserve this fruit. Read how I’m preserving fruit from the jujube tree!
Native Trees & Plants
- Honey Locust Tree – Useless yet Useful
- Identifying A Western Soapberry Tree
- Bois d’Arc – Beautiful & Functional Tree
- Jujube Tree Produces Sweet Fruits
- Wild Plum Tree Offers Plums For Delicious Jelly
Other Wildlife Posts
- Trapping Wild Hogs
- Wild Hogs: Making The Best Of A Bad Situation
- Wild Hog Damage
- Trapping & Relocating An Armadillo
- Adding Temporary Protection For Wild Rabbit’s Nest
- Itchy Chiggers – Separating Relief Fact From Fallacy
See All Posts About Native NE Texas Plants & Animals
Looks good! Thanks for sharing on the What’s for Dinner link up and don’t forget to leave a comment at the party – Next week’s features that also leave a comment get pinned and tweeted!
What a great story! Congratulations on your find. Were you ever told by the extension officer which variety of Jujube you have on your property? As you know there are over 700 different varieties of Jujube in China and over 40 currently in the US.
No, but it didn’t matter to me since “Jujube” told me everything I needed to know about this tree with regard to preserving its fruit. 🙂 ~TxH~
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So glad you figured out who your new garden friend is!
Thanks for sharing on Natural Living Monday.
Awesome! I was sure they were going to be olives, but I had no idea jujubes were common in the states…let alone Texas. They look interesting; I’d love to try some one day!
I’ve never heard of jujube trees. It’s quite intriguing. I bet they’d grow well here in Oklahoma too, and being drought-resistant is a big plus. Your old barn is wonderful! Thank you for joining us at the HomeAcre Hop this week; I hope you’ll link up again this Thursday.
How wonderful to have so much of the past right in your own backyard. Our land was just a forest long ago. The family that the road is named after still lives here and shared with us their memories of growing up here. While we don’t have the history you do it is nice to know something about the place you live.
Thanks for sharing on Tuesdays With a Twist.
It’s fun to walk around such old property and dream about the lives once lived there Joyce. Love it! ~TxH~
I have never heard of this tree either but how wonderful that you were able to identify it and can use / preserve its fruit! 🙂
Wow Debra, I’ve lived in Texas most all my life… Guess you still learn something every day! ~TxH~
Mary, I thought the same when I first saw the green fruits back in June/July – they were olive sized & shaped and had a pointed pit in the center. Although I enjoy a good olive every now & then, I’m really glad this is a jujube tree, the sweet fruits are amazing! ~TxH~
How exciting to find out what kind of fruit/tree that was! I’ve never heard of a Jujube tree either! There used to be a candy called Jujubes. Perhaps they were the flavor of this fruit.
I’ve heard of the candy called jujube although I never tasted it. I heard it referred to in an old movie, maybe the candy was named that because of how sweet the fruit is? I don’t know but I’m really enjoying preserving these fruits! ~TxH~
That’s awesome! I have never heard of these as real fruit. Hehe! We have a native tree called the paw paw tree out here in Eastern Iowa that has a similar story! Fascinating post!
Me too Michelle. I have heard of a paw paw tree but have never seen one – off to Google to look it up! ~TxH~
I have also heard of the Jujube tree but have never seen one! I wonder if that is where they got the name for the jujube candy? I will certainly be interested to see what you do with the fruit. Thanks for the pictures and info!
I’m guessing so Vickie – I’d only heard of the candy before and the fruit is very sweet. ~TxH~
That is so cool! I had never heard of these trees before your post either-thank you for sharing them with us! We too have discovered hidden gems on our land from cherry trees, wild blackberry thickets, wild mulberry trees and a peach tree. We knew about one apple tree when we bought it but have since discovered another. And for us, we are trying to add to the glorious diversity by planting more apple trees, more mulberry trees and reintroducing paw paw trees.
How exciting Shellie! We have a few wild plum trees here on the ranch, although the back-to-back droughts have eliminated most of them. We also have persimmons and although the fruit itself is very sweet, I can’t get past the dry taste of the skins and I’m not sure how to easily remove skins without imparting that taste to the puree. Still working on that one… We also have another fruit tree grove but I’m not sure what it is – maybe cherry? We’ve never been able to harvest much from that small area. I do harvest quite a few blackberries and pecans, it’s very satisfying. ~TxH~
Wow, that is really neat! I had heard of them before but never seen the tree or the fruit. I look forward to your post next week! 🙂
I’m having a blast preserving them Candy! ~TxH~