Trichome is one of those words you’ve probably never heard before, but you’ve seen what it means your whole life.
Trichomes are plant hairs. Trichome can also refer to plant scales, such as those seen on the outside of pineapples. These hairs or scales can be seen on leaves or stems. Understanding the vocabulary related to trichomes can help you identify unknown plants.
When a plant is covered with hairs, that covering is called an indumentum. The presence of trichomes provides a physical barrier against grazing, as in the case of nettles. In other cases, there is a sticky secretion that traps insects as food.
Anatomy of trichomes
Trichomes can be unicellular or multicellular. Unlike thorns and spines, which grow from shoots and leaves, respectively, trichomes are more similar to root hairs, both being outgrowths from epidural plant cells. Each of these cells, or groups of cells, may turn into thread-like extensions that can be long or short, stiff or soft, straight or curved. Some trichomes are glandular, meaning they secrete fragrant essential oils or toxic histamines. Plants with hairs or scales are called pubescent. If a plant lacks hairs or scales, it is said to be glabrous or glabrate.
Loquats are delicious, highly productive, broadleaf evergreen trees.
Loquats, also known as Japanese plums, are native to Asia. These easy-to-grow trees are members of the rose family.
Loquat tree characteristics
Loquat trees (Eriobotrya japonica) can reach 10 to 25 feet tall and across. Most specimens are smaller than that. In some cases, they look more like a spreading shrub. They offer lovely, fragrant white blooms in November and December, and can handle temperatures as low as 28°F. Leaves are elliptical, wrinkled, leathery, and toothed around the edge (margins). They are darker on top and lighter underneath. Smooth or slightly fuzzy yellow to orange fruits ripen in spring. These fruits contain one or more very large seeds and the fruit is delicious. These trees can make a bit of a mess when fruit drop time comes around. Loquat trees have a shallow root system, so care should be taken when digging nearby, and regular irrigation is helpful during the peak of summer. On the flip side, they cannot tolerate standing water.
Pests and diseases of loquat
The loquat tree is resistant to most pests and diseases. Fireblight, various rots, cankers, blights, and leaf spot may occur. Aphids, caterpillars, fruit flies, and scale insects may feed on your loquat tree.
This attractive, rounded tree provides beauty at a time when many plants are sleeping through winter. The fruit can be eaten fresh, or used to make jams, jellies, or pies.
I’m ordering mine today!
UPDATE: Loquat seed toxicity
It was recently brought to my attention that loquat seeds can be toxic to dogs and other animals. I did some research and this is what I learned:
So, once again, too much of a good thing can be a bad thing. If your dog eats a few loquats, the worst thing that will happen is a little stomach upset. If your dog is crazy in love with loquats, you should probably limit their access to the fruit.
You can grow a surprising amount of food in your own yard. Ask me how!
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