Thank you so much! We appreciate all your donations, big and small, which poured in during 2014. You gave our charity over £10,000 in response to our appeal, over ten times more than in 2013! This meant we did not need to dip into our dwindling reserves to keep the database and website going and free of charge for another year. In 2015 we will continue to depend on your donations, so please do keep them coming. More information on our financial position >>>
Search Page Content
   Bookmark and Share
    By donating to PFAF, you can help support and expand our activities
    Plant Suppliers: Click here for a List

Hovenia dulcis - Thunb.                
Common Name Japanese Raisin Tree
Family Rhamnaceae
Synonyms H. acerba. H. inequalis.
Known Hazards None known
Habitats Plains and mountains to 2000 metres in W. China[109]. Secondary forest[266].
Range E. Asia - China to the Himalayas.
Edibility Rating  
Medicinal Rating  
Fully Hardy Moist Soil Full sun


Physical Characteristics       
 icon of manicon of lolypop
Hovenia dulcis is a deciduous Tree growing to 10 m (32ft) by 7 m (23ft).
It is hardy to zone (UK) 6 and is not frost tender. It is in flower in July, and the seeds ripen from Sep to October. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs)

USDA hardiness zone : 5-9

Suitable for: light (sandy) and medium (loamy) soils. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers moist soil.

Hovenia dulcis Japanese Raisin Tree

Hovenia dulcis Japanese Raisin Tree
Woodland Garden Secondary; Sunny Edge;
Edible Uses                                         
Edible Parts: Fruit.
Edible Uses: Sweetener.

Fruit - raw or cooked[2, 11, 158]. They can be dried when they have the sweet flavour and texture of raisins and can be used similarly[183]. The fruit is sweet and fragrant[105, 147] with a pear-like flavour[218]. Dry and sub-acid[61]. It is not a true fruit but a swollen receptacle[200]. The fruit is up to 3cm long[2], it contains 11.4% glucose, 4.7% fructose and 12.6% sucrose[218]. A sweet extract of the seed, boughs and young leaves is used as a substitute for honey[183]. The seed contains 15% protein and 7.8% fat[218].
Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

Antispasmodic;  Febrifuge;  Laxative.

Antispasmodic, febrifuge, laxative[147, 178]. The fruit is antispasmodic, febrifuge, laxative and diuretic[218]. The seeds are diuretic and are used in the treatment of alcohol overdose[218]. The seeds are used to relieve intoxication due to wine[240]. The stem bark is used in the treatment of rectal diseases[218].
Other Uses

The wood is hard and fine grained. It is good for making furniture[266].
Cultivation details                                         
Grows well in a fertile sandy loam in a sunny position[200]. Although the dormant plant is hardy to at least -15°c in Britain, it really prefers a continental climate to fully ripen its wood, it is then hardy to about -25°c[200]. The shoot tips are sometimes damaged by winter frosts in Britain[1] and the young growth in spring can also be damaged by late frosts[K]. The Japanese raisin tree is said to grow well in Cornwall[59], though our experience of this plant so far (1995) is that it is very difficult to establish. Perhaps older plants are as hardy as the reports above suggest, but younger plants are quite tender and often die in their first few winters outdoors[K]. The Japanese raisin tree is cultivated for its edible fruit in Japan. The small white flowers are scented and are produced in terminal cymes[245].
Seed - germinates freely if sown as soon as it is ripe in a cold frame[200]. Stored seed should be scarified and sown in early spring[113], it may not germinate for a year. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when large enough to handle and grow on for at least their first winter in a greenhouse. Plant out in late spring after the last expected frosts and give some winter protection for their first couple of years outdoors. Cuttings of half-ripe wood, July/August in a frame[200]. Cuttings of mature wood, late autumn in a frame[200].
Plant Suppliers: Click here for a List

      You can download this page as a PDF

Expert comment                                         
Botanical References                                         
Links / References                                         

  [K] Ken Fern Notes from observations, tasting etc at Plants For A Future and on field trips.

[1]F. Chittendon. RHS Dictionary of Plants plus Supplement. 1956
Comprehensive listing of species and how to grow them. Somewhat outdated, it has been replaces in 1992 by a new dictionary (see [200]).
[2]Hedrick. U. P. Sturtevant's Edible Plants of the World.
Lots of entries, quite a lot of information in most entries and references.
[11]Bean. W. Trees and Shrubs Hardy in Great Britain. Vol 1 - 4 and Supplement.
A classic with a wealth of information on the plants, but poor on pictures.
[59]Thurston. Trees and Shrubs in Cornwall.
Trees and shrubs that succeed in Cornwall based on the authors own observations. Good but rather dated.
[61]Usher. G. A Dictionary of Plants Used by Man.
Forget the sexist title, this is one of the best books on the subject. Lists a very extensive range of useful plants from around the world with very brief details of the uses. Not for the casual reader.
[105]Tanaka. T. Tanaka's Cyclopaedia of Edible Plants of the World.
The most comprehensive guide to edible plants I've come across. Only the briefest entry for each species, though, and some of the entries are more than a little dubious. Not for the casual reader.
[109]Wilson. E. H. Plantae Wilsonae.
Details of the palnts collected by the plant collector E. H. Wilson on his travels in China. Gives some habitats. Not for the casual reader.
[113]Dirr. M. A. and Heuser. M. W. The Reference Manual of Woody Plant Propagation.
A very detailed book on propagating trees. Not for the casual reader.
[147]? A Barefoot Doctors Manual.
A very readable herbal from China, combining some modern methods with traditional chinese methods.
[158]Gupta. B. L. Forest Flora of Chakrata, Dehra Dun and Saharanpur.
A good flora for the middle Himalayan forests, sparsly illustrated. Not really for the casual reader.
[178]Stuart. Rev. G. A. Chinese Materia Medica.
A translation of an ancient Chinese herbal. Fascinating.
[183]Facciola. S. Cornucopia - A Source Book of Edible Plants.
Excellent. Contains a very wide range of conventional and unconventional food plants (including tropical) and where they can be obtained (mainly N. American nurseries but also research institutes and a lot of other nurseries from around the world.
[200]Huxley. A. The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
[218]Duke. J. A. and Ayensu. E. S. Medicinal Plants of China
Details of over 1,200 medicinal plants of China and brief details of their uses. Often includes an analysis, or at least a list of constituents. Heavy going if you are not into the subject.
[240]Chopra. R. N., Nayar. S. L. and Chopra. I. C. Glossary of Indian Medicinal Plants (Including the Supplement).
Very terse details of medicinal uses of plants with a wide range of references and details of research into the plants chemistry. Not for the casual reader.
[245]Genders. R. Scented Flora of the World.
An excellent, comprehensive book on scented plants giving a few other plant uses and brief cultivation details. There are no illustrations.
[266] Flora of China
On-line version of the Flora - an excellent resource giving basic info on habitat and some uses.

Readers comment                                         
Elizabeth H.
monica Mon Dec 26 2005
do you have any charts, graphs, and pictures?
Elizabeth H.
Bryan Wed Feb 8 2006
I am growing a Japanese Raisin Tree in Seattle, USA (48DEG North-- cool mediterranean type climate: wet winters, dry summers). I received this 2 year-old tree from a nursery. If anyone is interested to know how it goes, I'd be happy to respond. Email :)
Elizabeth H.
Egon Sun Apr 9 2006
Hi Bryan, I would like to know whether you got any fall color there in Seattle. We have quite many Japanese Raisin Trees here in zone 10A and they show very poor fall color, usually a golden mixed with the remaining green. My email is
Elizabeth H.
Alejandro B. Hernandez Fri Apr 27 2007
I need to know how or were I can buy the extract of the Hovenia tree.
Elizabeth H.
Denny Luby Tue Jan 22 2008
Do you get fruit? I have had a Hovenia dulcis for 5 years with no fruit. Three years ago I grafted scion from a fruiting tree now I have had heavy fruiting since the first year if the graft.
Elizabeth H.
Steve Thu Nov 19 2009
Is there any company selling the Hovenia Dulcis Extract? If you do or know, please send me a line to I prefer U.S origin since I live U.S. I want this for exporting outside of country.
Elizabeth H.
Paul Barney Thu Dec 31 2009
I have planted Hovenia dulcis outside in a couple of locations in Berkshire. The trees grow away very quickly. The tree in the nursery is 8m in just 5 years. As yet no fruit has set.
QR Code

What's this?

This is a QR code (short for Quick Response) which gives fast-track access to our website pages. QR Codes are barcodes that can be read by mobile phone (smartphone) cameras. This QR Code is unique to this page. All plant pages have their own unique code. For more information about QR Codes click here.

1. Copy and print the QR code to a plant label, poster, book, website, magazines, newspaper etc and even t-shirts.
2. Smartphone users scan the QR Code which automatically takes them to the webpage the QR Code came from.
3. Smartphone users quickly have information on a plant directly for the website on their phone.
Rate This Plant                                         
Please rate this plants for how successful you have found it to be. You will need to be logged in to do this. Our intention is not to create a list of 'popular' plants but rather to highlight plants that may be rare and unusual and that have been found to be useful by website users. This hopefully will encourage more people to use plants that they possibly would not have considered before.
Add a comment/link                                         

If you have important information about this plant that may help other users please add a comment or link below. Only comments or links that are felt to be directly relevant to a plant will be included. If you think a comment/link or information contained on this page is inaccurate or misleading we would welcome your feedback at If you have questions about a plant please use the Forum on this website as we do not have the resources to answer questions ourselves.

* Please note: the comments by website users are not necessarily those held by PFAF and may give misleading or inaccurate information.

Subject : Hovenia dulcis  

Links To add a link to another website with useful info add the details here
Name of Site
URL of Site