If you take a wander through Crabtree Fields public park at the moment you may be lucky enough to smell the fragrant blossom of loquat (Eriobotrya japonica).
At around eight metres tall it is native to China, widely grown in Japan, and it is often referred to as Japanese loquat. In Spain it is called nispero, where it is grown commercially for its citrus-like fruit. It flowers in late autumn and early winter but it is unlikely to bear any fruit in Fitzrovia.
“E. japonica is a large evergreen shrub with handsome glossy leaves to 20cm in length, brown-felted beneath. Flowers 2cm in width, hawthorn-like, scented. Fruit 4cm, apricot-yellow, edible but seldom ripening in most of UK,” says the RHS.
Loquat will attract some insects and help with biodiversity in the park, something the Friends of Crabtree Fields are very keen to improve by planting a variety of native trees and shrubs this winter.