Native to temperate regions of Asia and known botanically as Ziziphus jujuba. Slow to moderate growth to 1520 ft. (possibly 30 ft.) tall and 1015 ft. wide. Spiny, gnarled, somewhat pendulous branches. Glossy, bright green, 1- to 2-in.-long leaves with three prominent veins; good yellow fall color. Clusters of small yellowish flowers appear in late spring or summer.
Round to oval fruit with a central pit matures in fall; it can be eaten fresh from the tree or dried. Harvest the fruit for fresh eating when it begins to turn from yellow-green to reddish brown; it has a crisp texture and tastes like a sweet apple. If allowed to turn completely brown and become mushy, fruit is better for drying. The dried fruit looks and tastes like dates. The two most common cultivated selections are 'Lang', with 1- to 2-in., elongated fruit, and 'Li', bearing 2-in., round fruit with a very small pit. 'Lang' needs 'Li' as pollenizer; 'Li' is more productive with 'Lang' nearby, though it will produce some fruit if planted alone.
Jujube is a decorative tree but a tough one, too. It withstands drought and heat; it takes saline and alkaline soils (but grows better in good garden soil). Thrives in lawns, though suckering from roots can be a problem in moist soil. Prune in winter to shape, encourage weeping habit, or reduce size.