Indian jujube (Ziziphus mauritiana Lam.) is shrub or small tree of the dry tropicals and subtropical regions that is browsed by livestock.
Indian jujube is a shrub or small thorny tree, reaching a height of 3-15 m. Deciduous or almost evergreen, Indian jujube has an erect or spreading habit (US Forest Service, 2013; Ecocrop, 2013; Orwa et al., 2009). It has a deep taproot (Morton, 1987). The trunk is around 40 cm in diameter, covered with a dark grey or dull black, irregularly fissured bark (Orwa et al., 2009). The branches are numerous and drooping. The twigs are tomentose. The spines are solitary or borne in pairs at the base of the leaves, 5 to 7 mm long (Latiff, 1991). In cultivated Indian jujube, the spines may be absent (Azam-Ali et al., 2006). The leaves are simple, alternate, ovate, 2-9 cm long, with 3 conspicuous longitudinal veins. The upper surface of the leaves is dark glossy green and the lower one is densely hairy (Latiff, 1991; Morton, 1987). The dense silky underside is a way to distinguish Indian jujube from Chinese jujube (Ziziphus jujuba Mill.) (Morton, 1987). The flowers are pentamerous, greenish yellow in colour, hairy outside and about 5 mm wide. They are borne on 1-2 cm long axillary cymes (US Forest Service, 2013; Latiff, 1991). The fruit is an ovoid drupe, 6 cm x 4 cm in size. The fruit skin may be smooth or rough, glossy, yellowish to reddish or blackish. The flesh is white, juicy, subacid to sweet, turning mealy when fully ripe (Latiff, 1991). The stone is single, hard, oval or oblate, rough central. It contains 2 elliptic, brown seeds, 6 mm long (Morton, 1987).
Indian jujube is a multi-purpose tree mainly grown for its fruits. It starts bearing fruits 6-8 years after planting and yield increases until the tree is 15-20 year old (Ecocrop, 2013). The fruit is edible and can be eaten fresh, dried like dates, candyied, salted or pickled (Ecocrop, 2013; Latiff, 1991). It can be processed into flour meal, paste, juice, syrup or alcoholic beverage (Latiff, 1991). It is a good source of carotene, vitamins A and C, and fatty oils (Orwa et al., 2009). Young leaves are edible and are cooked as vegetable in Indonesia. Fruits and bark are used to make dye and medicinal preparations (Ecocrop, 2013; Orwa et al., 2009). Indian jujube wood is reddish, fine-textured, hard and durable. It can be used in rural house construction, posts and tool manufacturing. Branch make is excellent firewood. The Indian jujube tree also hosts lac insects and is fodder for tasar silkworm that makes high-prized silk in India (Orwa et al., 2009). It is a minor source of pollen for bees (Orwa et al., 2009). A potential agroforestry species, this thorny tree is useful to make windbreaks and living fence. It is browsed by livestock as its leaves are nutritious fodder for sheep and goats (Ecocrop, 2013; Orwa et al., 2009; Nair, 1993).