Colin Mills, compiler of the Hortus Camdenensis, died in late November 2012 after a short illness. As he always considered the Hortus his legacy, it is his family's intention to keep the site running in perpetuity. It will not, however, be updated in the near future.

Hovenia dulcis Thunb.

Fully hardy, upright then spreading tree with generally heart-shaped , toothed, glossy leaves, to 20cm long, downy beneath, and cymes, to 7cm across, of tiny, greenish flowers in summer.  After flowering the stalks swell, becoming reddish, and are fleshy, sweet and edible.  To 12m.  [RHSE, Hortus, Hilliers’].

Horticultural & Botanical History

Hovenia dulcis is cultivated in Japan and China for the sake of its singular sweet fruit, as in common language it is called, though, it does not afford any covering to the seed, as most fruits do; but no more does the common strawberry, the succulent, eatable part of which is the enlaged receptacle, on the outside of which the seed is affixed.  So in this plant, after the flowering is over the branched foot-stalks of the flowers increase in size, become succulent and contain a sweet pulp which Kaempfer compares to the taste of our Bergamot pear.  To the succulent extremities of the branched foot-stalk, the capsule containing three seeds in three cells is attached by a short pedicle.’  [BM t.2360/1822].  Introduced to Europe in 1812.  [Don].

History at Camden Park

Listed in the 1850 and 1857 catalogues [T.559/1850].  Macathur may have imported this tree more for its culinary properties than its value as an ornamental tree.


Published Mar 04, 2009 - 04:59 PM | Last updated Jul 30, 2010 - 04:53 PM

Shown are heart-shaped leaves, tiny, greenish flowers and black fruits.  Curtis's Botanical Magazine t.2360, 1822.

Hovenia dulcis Thunb. | BM t.2360/1822 | BHL

Family Rhamnaceae
Region of origin

Southern Asia

Common Name

Raisin tree

Name in the Camden Park Record

Hovenia dulcis 

Confidence level high