Ziziphus lotus is an intricately branched, spiny, deciduous shrub, sometimes becoming more tree-like; it usually grows up to 3 metres tall[
The plant is harvested from the wild for local use as a food, medicine and source of materials.
Mediterranean regions of Europe, Asia and Africa, extending east to the Arabian Peninsula and Socatra, south to Mali and Mauritania
Dry lands and steppe
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Ziziphus lotus is native to the Mediterranean region, with its hot, dry summers and cool, moist to wet winters. It can tolerate moderate frosts, but only if it has previously experienced a hot, dry season. It does not succeed in cold temperate regions or in mild, maritime areas with cool summers.
Requires a sunny position. Succeeds in most soils so long as they are well-drained.
Fruit - raw or cooked[
]. The pulp is soft, mucilaginous, sweet, and acidulous. A dry, fleshy pulp[
]. They can be dried for consumption out of season[
]. They are also used for making preserves, or can be dried and then made into a flour for making bread etc[
]. The yellow-orange to red, subglobose fruit is around 10 - 15mm in diameter, containing one or two seeds.
The seeds are ground to make amlou, a Moroccan chunky paste usually made with argan oil, almonds or peanuts, and sometimes honey or sugar[
Different parts of the plant (the fruits, leaves and root) have been employed in North African traditional medicine for treating a range of ailments, including diabetes, digestive, respiratory and cardiac diseases, or skin problems[
The leaf powder is applied topically for treating abscesses and wounds[
A decoction of the fruit is used in the treatment of diabetes, digestive and respiratory problems[
The plant plays a major role in fixing soil in arid and semi arid regions where soil erosion is a major issue[
The plant is sometimes grown as a hedge, where its prickly stems can act as a barrier[
The flowers are attractive to bees[
The prickly branches are used to make stock-proof barriers.
The wood is used for fuel.
Seed - best sown in a cold frame as soon as it is ripe. Stored seed requires 3 months warm then 3 months cold stratification[
]. Germination should take place in the first spring, though it might take another 12 months. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and grow them on in a cold frame for at least their first winter. Plant out in early summer.
Root cuttings in a greenhouse in the winter[
]. Best results are achieved if a temperature of 5 - 10°c can be maintained[
Cuttings of mature wood of the current season's growth, late autumn to January in a frame[
Division of suckers in the dormant season[
]. They can be planted out direct into their permanent positions if required.