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Loquats and Kumquats Are NOT the Same

Copyright © 2017-2018, 2022 by David E. Ross

Because the second syllable in each name is quat, many people confuse loquats and kumquats. As plants and as fruits, they are quite different. Their only similarity is in the use of quat, derived from the Cantonese gwat (Mandarin glyph meaning 'orange'), meaning orange (as in the fruit, not the color). Both are native of south-east Asia.

I have both a loquat and a kumquat in my garden. The loquat is a regular tree. The kumquat is a dwarf, actually a small shrub. Both are broad-leaf evergreens.

Loquat Kumquat
Botanical name: Eriobotrya japonica
Related to apples and pears, in the rose family.
The variety in my garden is 'MacBeth'.
Botanical name: Citrus margarita (also known as C. japonica 'Nagami', formerly Fortunella margarita 'Nagami')
Definitely citrus, in the rue family.
Flowers in the winter. The flowers smell of almonds. Flowers twice in the summer, about a month apart. The flowers have a typical citrus perfume.
Fruit ripens in May. Fruit ripens in December and January.
photo of ripening loquats and a sliced loquat
Left: Ripening loquats in my tree. Each is about the size of a fig or small apricot.
Right: Loquat sliced lenghwise; note the brown seeds.
photo of ripe kumquats and a slice kumquat
Left: Close-up of ripe kumquats in my bush. Each is about the size of an olive.
Right: Kumquat sliced lengthwise; note the seed in the right half and the relatively thick skin.
Fruit has a tropical taste, quite sweet but with a slight tartness. The thin skin is edible but can easily be removed. There are several large brown inedible seeds. Technically, the fruit is a pome. Fruit is a mix of flavors. The skin is sweet and bitter, the pulp is tart. The relatively thick skin is edible and cannot be easily removed. There are small inedible seeds typical of citrus; however, the fruit is often seedless. Technically, the fruit is a hesperidium.

6 May 2017
Updated 11 January 2022