Chinese Plum Tree / Loquat
Chinese Plum Tree / Loquat (Pi Pa / Pi Pa Ye)
Botanical Name: Eriobotrya japonica
The Chinese plum or loquat, is best known for being made into cough syrups to ease sore throats and coughing associated with bronchitis. It is also used to ease stomach aches and if the fruit is eaten in quantities it is known to have sedating properties that will help put you to sleep.The leaves are used to help prevent vomiting and externally to treat acne and eczema.
Below is an overview of Chinese Plum Tree / Loquat (Pi Pa / Pi Pa Ye), combining and interpreting the best of Western Science, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Shamanism, Folklore and more. Gain a balanced and thorough understanding of the healing properties of Chinese Plum Tree / Loquat (Pi Pa / Pi Pa Ye).
Western Name: Chinese Plum Tree / Loquat
Also Known As: Japanese Plum, Japanese Medlar
Organs/Systems: Lungs, Stomach, Skin, Nervous System
Key Western Actions & Medicinal Uses: Demulcent, Expectorant, Digestive, Sedating. Bronchitis, sore throats, upset stomachs, calming, insomnia, eczema.
Pin Yin: Pi Pa (Loquat Fruit) / Pi Pa Ye (Loquat Leaf)
Also Known As: N/A
Meridians: Pi Pa (Loquat Fruit): Spleen, Liver, Lung. Pi Pa Ye (Loquat Leaf): Lung, Stomach.
Key TCM Actions & Medicinal Uses: Pi Pa (Loquat Fruit) – Moistens the Lungs: cough, asthma due to Lung Heat, wheezing, shortness of breath. Directs Qi Downwards: vomiting, nausea. Relieves Thirst: including dry mouth in pregnant women, diabetes. Pi Pa Ye (Loquat Leaf) – Transforms Phlegm/Clears Heat/Harmonizes the Stomach: nausea, vomiting, belching, hiccups, early menses. Stops Bleeding/Soothes Skin: eczema, skin ulcers.
Parts Most Frequently Used: Fruit (aka loquat), Leaves
Flavors/Temps: Fruit – Sweet, Sour, Slightly Acid. Leaves – Bitter, Cool.
Caution: Generally considered safe.
History/Folklore: Used in Oriental medicine for over a thousand years to soothe sore throats and as a syrup to ease coughs, the fruit of the Chinese plum tree, aka loquat, is also nutritious and described as tasting like a mixture of citrus, mango and peach. The fruit is sweetest when the fruit is soft and orange.
The leaves are gathered in the late spring and early summer and left to dry in the sun. When dried the soft hairs on the leaves are brushed off and the leaves are cut into small pieces. Typically dosing is 4-12 grams of dried leaf. 15-30 grams if the leaves are fresh. Be sure to brush off the hairs from the leaves as they can irritate sore throats and cause coughing! The leaves can be used raw or stir-fried with honey.
The leaves are also used to help weight loss, diabetes, and encourage hair growth.
The amygdalin found in the leaves are known to have a calming effect on the respiratory center, helping to relieve asthma and coughs.
In Japan, the dried leaves are used to make a popular drink known as Biwa Cha. The drink is said to beautify the skin and help heal inflammatory skin conditions such as eczema, acne, and psoriasis. The beverage is also used to ease the sore throats and coughing associated with bronchitis.
In Italy, the liqueur nespolino is made from the seeds and is similar to amaretto in flavor.
The fruits name, loquat, derives from the classical Chinese pinyin word that literally translates as “black orange,” which originally referred to the unripe green kumquat fruit, over time this word began to be applied to the Chinese plum, or loquat fruit instead, and the name has now stuck. These two fruits are not related botanically, but only share a common name in old Chinese.
In Chinese culture because the fruit ripens in fall and winter, it has evolved to be an important symbol of endurance and overcoming the challenges of life. The fragrance of the plum blossoms are said to “come from the bitterness and coldness,” meaning that similarly a persons soul is tempered by depth of experience, allowing them to grow in inner strength and unyielding courage.
The fruit is highly nutritious. It is low in saturated fat and sodium and high in vitamin A, fiber, potassium and manganese.
The Chinese plum tree is said to be “the only fruit bearing tree that possesses the properties of all 4 seasons” because it bears flowers in fall and winter and then bears fruit in spring and summer. The tree is also known as one of the “Three Sisters in Early Summer” (along with cherry and bayberry).
The wood from the trees is reddish brown, hard and used to make attractive walking sticks and wooden tools.
Alkaloids, Glycoprotein, Oleo-resin, Isoflavones (Genistein), Flavonoids, Coumarins, Polysaccharides, Baptisin.
Seeds & Young Leaves Poisonous
The seeds (pips) and young leaves are slightly poisonous, containing small amounts of cyanogenic glycosides which release cyanide when ingested. However, their very bitter taste and the low concentrations of these substances normally prevent harm from occurring.
Four Noble Plants of Ancient China
The Chinese plum tree is one of the “Four Noble” plants of ancient China. These include the orchid (purity), bamboo (uprightness), chrysanthemum (humility) and the Chinese plum tree (endurance).
So beloved is the fruit, it is often mentioned in Chinese poetry.
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