Growing Chinese fruit trees give a home gardener exercise, enjoyment and exotic fruit. Plant the Chinese fruit trees in an area exposed to full sunlight. They will grow well in partial shade, but the fruit quality and quantity decreases. When choosing your planting site check to make sure that water does not gather in that spot. Standing water is a good way to kill off your Chinese fruit trees.
Che (Cudrania tricuspidata Bur. ex Lavallee) is also known as Chinese mulberry and Mandarin melon berry. This deciduous tree grows 25 feet tall. Young branches grow thorns that are lost as the wood ages. The female tree is larger than its male counterpart. Both tree types need to be present to get fruit. The leaves are small, thin pale yellow-green.
Male and female flowers appear on different plants in June. They are green and pea-sized with red fruit appearing later. The fruit grows 1 to 2 inches in diameter and resembles a mulberry crossed with a raspberry. When the che fruit is fully ripe, it develops a watermelon-like flavor. Once the che trees are established, they do not need any special care. The che trees are drought tolerant and adaptable to poor soil conditions. They can also withstand temperature of -28 degrees F. In China, the che leaves act as a backup food source for silkworms.
Lychee (Litchi chinensis) is also called litchi, leechee, lichi and mamoncillo chino. It is native to southern China and southeastern Asia. It grows 40 feet tall and is a dense, rounded tree. The branches nearly reach the ground. Its leaves are a collection of 2 to 8 leaflets that are reddish in color when young, but turn bright green when mature. The flowers are small and greenish in color. Fruit appear in cherry-like clusters of 3 to 50 fruit.
The fruit is yellow, pink or red in color. The edible part is between the peel and the pit. Tree ripened lychee tastes the best. The lychee tree grows the best in a climate with dry, cold winters that do not freeze and warm summers.
Jujube (Ziziphus jujube) is also known as the Chinese date and tsao. It has been grown in China for more than 4,000 years ago. This deciduous tree grows 40 feet in height. Its thorny branches zig-zag as they grow. The leaves are oval and 1 to 2 inches long. The bright, shiny green leaves turn bright yellow in the fall. Each leaf has two spines at its base. The flowers are tiny, white to greenish-yellow and appear in late spring through the summer. Cherry to plum size fruit appear after the flowers. They turn red when they are ripe.
After ripening, the fruit begins to wrinkle. The jujube is edible afterwards. The fruit tree sends up suckers from the roots that periodically need removing. This tree tolerates temperatures of -28 degrees F. The jujube tree needs a small amount of cold to develop fruit.