Eriobotrya japonica

Eriobotrya japonica (Thunb.) Lindl. (China, Japan) – A rare but increasing alien. Probably first found in the wild in Belgium in 2000 in the Antwerp port area. Scattered young plants were found on the unloading quay of the Cargill plant adjacent to the Kanaaldok (Verloove 2003) where it was apparently introduced as animal feed. Since 2004 Eriobotrya japonica is regularly recorded in the larger cities in Belgium, mostly in Antwerp but also in Gent, Brussels and Liège. See here for an overview of observations: 
Eriobotrya japonica is hardy only in favorable areas in Europe and withstands 0 to -5°C (Mitchem 1995). In Belgium it only survives in the climatologically mildest areas, always in urban habitats. It is usually found on basement walls, foot of walls and at the base of apartments, obviously from discarded pits (see also Ficus carica or Phoenix dactylifera). In a few places it has persisted since more than ten years but a genuine naturalization probably is unlikely in Belgium. Identical records are now also available from a few other Central and western European countries (e.g. Keil & al. 2003, Keil & Loos 2005). It is, however, obviously limited by climatic factors; in the Netherlands, for instance, it has not been recorded yet (situation April 2016; see:
Eriobotrya japonica also is a characteristic example of the laurophyllisation process (the escape of exotic evergreen shrubs and trees as a result of climate change) on the southern slopes of the Alps (e.g. Walther 1999, Walther 2000, Klötzli 2003, etc.).
This species is susceptible to diseases such as fire blight (Erwinia amylovora bacteria).
Eriobotrya japonica was introduced in Europe in the 18th century, initially as an ornamental tree. Later, when types with larger fruits were selected, it was grown because of its fruits since the beginning of the 20th century. Molecular data demonstrated that its genetic diversity in Europe is very low. It seems that only a few forms were introduced from Japan (Badenes & al. 2003).

Selected literature:

Badenes M.L., Canyamas T., Llácer G., Martínez J., Romero C. & Soriano J.M. (2003) Genetic diversity in european collection of loquat (Eriobotrya japonica Lindl.). Acta horticulturae 620:169-174. [available online at:
Hidajat E. (1979) Papalaan (Eriobotrya japonica Lindl.). Bul. Kebun Raya 4(3): 93-95.
Keil P., Fuchs R. & Loos G.H. (2003) Eriobotrya japonica (Thunb.) Lindl., die Japanische Wollmispel, ein ungewöhnlicher Neubürger in Kellerlichtschächten der Essener Innenstadt. Natur und Heimat (Münster) 63: 59-64.
Keil P. & Loos G.H. (2005) Preliminary account of ergasiophygophytic and xenophytic trees, shrubs and subshrubs in the Central Ruhrgebiet (Germany). Electronic Publications of the Biological Station of Western Ruhrgebiet 3: 1-12. [available online at:
Klötzli F. (2003) Zur Einnistung von exotischen Wärmezeigern in Südtessiner (insubrischen) Wäldern. Einige Thesen zur "Laurophyllierung”. Bull. Soc. Frib. Sc. Nat. 92: 47-60. [available online at:]
Louati S., Simmonds M.S.J., Grayer R.J., Kite G.C. & Damak M. (2003) Flavonoids from Eriobotrya japonica (Rosaceae) growing in Tunisia. Biochem. Syst. Ecol. 31(1): 99-101.
Mitchem C.M. (1995) Eriobotrya. In: Cullen J. & al. (eds.), The European Garden Flora, vol. 4. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge: 420-421.
Rivals P. (1978) Sur l'introduction en France et à l'Ile de France du néflier du Japon: Eriobotrya japonica (Thunb.) Lindl. J. Agric. Trad. Bot. Appl. 25(3): 139-143. [available online at:]
Verloove F. (2003) Graanadventieven nieuw voor de Belgische flora, hoofdzakelijk in 1999 en 2000. Dumortiera 80: 45-53. [available online at:
Walther G.-R. (1999) Distribution and limits of evergreen broad-leaved (laurophyllous) species in Switzerland. Bot. Helv. 109: 153-167. [available online at:]
Walther G.-R. (2000) Laurophyllisation in Switzerland. PhD thesis, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Zürich. [available online at:]
Zappi D. & Turner J. (2001) Plant portraits: 419. Eriobotrya japonica (Rosaceae). Curtis's Bot. Mag. 18(2): 108-112.

Scratchpads developed and conceived by (alphabetical): Ed Baker, Katherine Bouton Alice Heaton Dimitris Koureas, Laurence Livermore, Dave Roberts, Simon Rycroft, Ben Scott, Vince Smith