Usually, in the kingdom of Flora, plants that are widespread throughout the countries and continents of our planet, well known not only to professional farmers, but also to ordinary gardeners, can boast of an abundance of names. However, the undoubted record holder for the number of names in the plant world is ziziphus - an exotic plant for most of our planet. Moreover, in many countries he managed to acquire not even one, but several names at once. Scientists have calculated that ziziphus today has as many as 40 names, including unabi, jujub, breast berry, Chinese date, red date, juyuba, chapyzhnik, chailon, anab, chilion, jilan jida, planjiba, zao, yanap (or anab) , arnap, ilan dzhida, thorns of Christ.
Zizyphus for many peoples is not just a valuable tree, but a sacred symbol. Some researchers believe that the crown of thorns of Christ was made from the branches of the ziziphus - they are covered with thorns, which are called "Christ's thorns." Muslims believe that the ziziphus tree grows not only on earth, but also in paradise, and the names of all people living on our planet are written on its leaves, therefore ziziphus is sometimes called the "living book of names."
4,000 years next to man
The most famous names for this plant are Ziziphus and Unabi. Ziziphus real (Ziziphus jujuba) - subtropical fruit crop. The homeland of this plant is China, and more specifically, the area in the lower and middle reaches of the Yellow River, although Afghanistan does not agree with this and claims that the sacred Ziziphus was born on Afghan soil.
In China, ziziphus has been cultivated for over 4,000 years. The fruits of ziziphus are mentioned in the ancient texts of famous oriental healers, who advised the use of unabi to treat a variety of diseases, from constipation and neurasthenia to insomnia, tonsillitis and bronchitis. It is known that ancient Chinese monks and holy Indian hermits used to eat zizyphus, travelers who intended to set off on a long journey through the desert were stocked with dried Chinese dates.
The wood of this tree was valued no less than its fruits. In those early days, few materials could compete with unabi wood in terms of strength. History has brought to us information that in the IV century AD, when they tried to invent the first helicopter in China, its rotary aircraft wing was designed precisely from ziziphus wood. Wood was used not only for the manufacture of various joinery and turning products, but also as firewood, which allows a stable high temperature to be maintained in the hearths for a long time, which is necessary for the preparation of the most exquisite dishes.
The fragrant flowers of zizyphus, according to the ancient Chinese, possessed powerful magical powers. It was believed that they were able to attract girls and arouse love, so young men decorated their clothes with unabi flowers. The traditional Chinese wedding ceremony is still unthinkable without ziziphus flowers. Parents put fragrant flowers of ziziphus in the bedroom of the newlyweds on their honeymoon in order to wish the young family the speedy birth of their first child.
Europe got acquainted with ziziphus only at the beginning of the 19th century. The famous English traveler Sir Richard Bacon, who was able to eat unabi during his legendary pilgrimage to Mecca, shared his impressions about the taste of the fruits of the Chinese date with his contemporaries. True, in fairness it should be noted that he did not like the exotic fruit, he found its taste similar to "rotten plum, unripe cherry and tasteless apple." Although ripe unabis have a firm, but sweet, often slightly sour pulp. But, as they say, the taste and color ... Perhaps it was because of such reviews of Bacon that the ziziphus could not find the love and respect of Europeans for a long time.The popularity of this plant in Europe began to grow much later, along with the growing fashion for practicing various oriental practices and oriental traditional medicine, when the medicinal properties of the Chinese date became widely known.
But unabi wood, due to its unique properties, was appreciated by artisans at once and very highly. For a long time, the famous furniture maker and skilled woodcarver from Florence, Luigi Frullini, shone at the World Exhibitions. This famous woodcutter preferred to take the wood of exotic ziziphus as the basis for his masterpieces.
Today in China there are more than 400 varieties of this crop, its plantings occupy an area of 200 thousand hectares and are the third largest after apple and citrus orchards.
Ziziphus as a useful drought-resistant plant is grown in India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Algeria, Israel, Egypt and the Caucasus countries. In recent decades, more and more attention has been paid to this plant in the USA, Italy, Spain and France.
Ziziphus was brought to Russia during the Soviet era somewhere in the thirties of the twentieth century. Until now, the fruits are successfully grown in the Krasnodar Territory.
A collection of large-fruited Chinese varieties of ziziphus has been created in the Nikitsky Botanical Garden in Crimea, more than 140 samples, varieties and forms in total. The best varieties of ziziphus were brought to the Crimean Nikitsky Botanical Gardens directly from China in the 50s of the last century. Experimental planting of ziziphus began in the USSR in the 1970s. Ten Crimean farms took part in them, where zizyphus was planted on several hectares. The trees have taken root in four different soil and climatic regions of the peninsula: in the Central steppe zone, the Western coastal steppe zone, the Eastern steppe zone and the South Coast zone. But the most interesting thing, it turned out that the most successful zizyphus breeds in summer residents and amateur gardeners, who themselves can create the necessary microclimate of the site.
Ziziphus real (Ziziphus jujuba) - a species of thorny deciduous shrubs or trees from the genus of flowering plants Ziziphus (Ziziphus) belonging to the Krushinovy family (Rhamnaceae). The genus includes 53 species, of which the real Ziziphus is the most famous and widespread, but the Moorish Zaziphus (Ziziphus mauritiana) - currently one species with real ziziphus, ziziphus lotus, he is also African unabi or lotus tree (Ziziphus lotus) and prickly ziziphus, or Christ's thorn (Ziziphus spina-christi).
Under natural conditions, Ziziphus real grows in the subtropical and tropical regions of China, India, Afghanistan, Iran and Central Asia. It is also found in the Himalayas, the Caucasus and Japan, preferring dry mountain slopes.
These are trees or thorny deciduous shrubs, reaching a height of 10-12 meters in natural growing conditions. Woody species have a hemispherical openwork crown, shrub species branch at the base, their crown is pyramidal or broadly spreading.
The bark of the unabi is thick, dark gray or anthracite-black, with irregular deep grooves. Smooth in young specimens, cracks over time.
The branches are divided into permanent and annual. The permanent ones make up the "skeleton" of the unabi, the annuals fall off every autumn, and are replaced by new ones in the spring. They are smooth, burgundy. Many varieties have thorns on their annual branches. Since fruiting shoots fall off after ripening, the zizyphus is called a branch-like tree.
Leaves are ovate-lanceolate, leathery, alternate, shiny, 3-7 cm long and 1-3 cm wide, with jagged edges.
Bisexual, small, 0.3-0.5 cm in diameter, five-membered star-shaped ziziphus flowers can be either single or collected in a bunch of 3-5 pieces on bare short stalks located at the base of the leaves. The flowers are greenish-yellow, fragrant.Ziziphus blooms profusely, on one bush there can be up to 300 flowers. Flowering begins in July and often lasts until the end of August, while the heat is on.
Zizyphus fruits are fleshy edible drupes. They can be ellipsoidal, rounded, pear-shaped or spherical. Color - from yellow-red to dark brown. In wild representatives of the species, the fruits are smaller, up to 2 cm in length, their weight does not exceed 25 g. In cultivated forms, the fruits are much larger, reaching a mass of 50 g and a length of 5 cm. An unripe Chinese date has a pale green or pale yellow shiny skin, when ripe, the skin darkens, becomes dark red-brown. On the skin of some varieties, light specks are visible. The pulp of ziziphus is dense, dryish, it can be white or light green. Ripe fruits are tender and juicy. The pulp, sometimes mealy, sour and sweet tastes are combined in different variations. The stone is small, in some varieties it does not develop completely, remaining semi-soft.
Continuation - in the articles:
- Popular varieties of ziziphus
- Growing ziziphus on the site and in a pot
- Useful properties of present ziziphus