Jujuba (Ziziphus jujuba)

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Have you tried herbal preparations for Chinese medicine? For some, this may mean an interesting alternative to our herbs, or even conventional medicines. They have amazingly poetic names, such as The Shadow of the Brocade Veil, The Storm from the Nomadic Steppes, The Fragility of a Rolled Leaf or, for example, the Pill of Bursting in Laughter. I will not discuss their effectiveness here, but only what herbs we most often find in these preparations.


Jujuba, which has a beautiful name in Czech Chinese cicimek, is a small deciduous tree (grows to a height of 5-8 meters) from the family buckthorn (Rhamnaceae). There are two other species from this family in the Czech Republic: alder buckthorn and buckthorn. Both of these shrubs are the only hosts of the yellow buckthorn and both have black fruits. Krušina slightly poisonous and hard, buckthorn in a smaller amount edible, but strongly laxative (cleansing - therefore "buckthorn cleansing").

Jujube originates in the subtropical regions of Asia, it is grown mainly in China (including the currently heavily tested province of Hubei), Central and Central Asia, the Mediterranean, the southern United States and Australia. In its homeland, it also grows on mountain slopes and plains, from the coast to an altitude of about 1700 m. It can also grow on dry, stony soils. Although it is a subtropical plant, it would probably grow even in warm areas of the Czech Republic, the adult tree can withstand even -20 ° C for a short time. However, the fruits ripen for a long time and need a lot of heat, so they do not ripen in the cold autumn.

The young branches of this tree are straight and thorny, the older ones tend to be nodular, reddish-brown and grow disordered. The fresh shoots are olive green in color and are in two rows overgrown with alternating leaves with short petioles, ovate or elliptical, 2–4 cm long, slightly asymmetrical, shortly pointed, serrated, leathery, glabrous, dark green above, glossy. The sticks are turned into deciduous thorns, the bark is brown.

From the troughs of the leaves grow short branches bearing small, five-fold, inconspicuously yellow-green flowers growing either alone or sometimes up to eight grouped in terminal apices. Their triangular calyx slices tend to be fused together in a short tube. The flowers bloom from May to July and are pollinated by insects. The fruit is shiny stone fruit, 2–5 cm long, dark red to brown at maturity. They ripen in August to October and their fleshy mesocarp is white to greenish, sweet or coiled in taste and contains a pointed seed covering its own seed - the seed.

In China, jujube was grown in ancient times. Along the Silk Road, it was transported by caravans to Central and Central Asia, the Middle East and later to the Mediterranean. According to the historian Pliny the Elder, it was brought to Rome from the Middle East at the beginning of our era. In our country it was grown and is grown only minimally.

The main reason for growing are fruits, so-called Chinese dates. These are an excellent source of vitamin C, the amount of which is higher than in lemon. They also contain vitamin B2, B3, B6, provitamin A, trace elements (especially copper, cobalt, iodine, potassium, calcium, phosphorus, iron, magnesium, zinc, manganese), rutin, bioflavonoids, starches and carbohydrates (approx. 20 %, dried jujube up to 64 %), proteins (1.2 %, dried up to 4 %) and fats (0.2 %).

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In traditional Chinese medicine, jujube (Chinese da zhao) is used to tonize qi energy, shen, stomach and blood. If you come to the healer with fatigue, anorexia, insomnia or diarrhea, he can recommend the fruits of jujube. It is also used for rheumatism, muscle pain, high blood pressure, heart arrhythmias and insufficiency, flu and respiratory diseases, fever, headache, anemia, weakness, irregular menstruation and exhaustion. It is combined with ginger, licorice, peony root, cinnamon, rhubarb or hemp seeds as needed. The main domain of jujuba is the functionality of the digestive system and detoxification and the stimulation of the whole organism.

Jujube fruits are eaten either fresh, or dried or candied, processed into compotes, juices, used in baking, added to some types of bread, unripe and pickled in salt and vinegar. Fresh dishes are traditionally made into coffee, and in China and Korea they are made into syrup or fruit tea. Jujube vinegar is specific for China and India, which is the basis for some types of pickles (sweet and sour fermented vegetables).

In China, picking the fruit in an alcoholic beverage called baijiu is also popular. The fruits will stay in it until the end of winter. They are also part of the traditional jing gao rice cake. Jujube jam, juice and fruit brandy are made in Dalmatia. Jujube has been valued since ancient times by Bedouins wandering the Arabian desert, who liked to carry it dried, either whole or in the form of cakes made from crushed fruits. A special sweet alcoholic liqueur called toy boat they are made in Italy.

Jujube leaves have also been used, which are fed to domestic animals in Asia and serve as a substitute for silkworm caterpillars. The leaves contain zizifin, a substance that blocks the receptors for the perception of sweetness, so we do not feel a sweet taste after chewing them. In China, they make delicious herbal tea from the leaves.

The wood of jujube trees has a dense structure, is well machined and is used for the production of turned products. It gained its greatest fame in the form of lacquered tea boxes, which are used during the Japanese tea ceremony.


Jujube comes from the subtropical regions of Asia, it is grown mainly in China

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