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a genus of plants of the family Rhamnaceae. There are about 40 species, distributed in tropical and subtropical regions of Asia, Africa, and Australia. The best-known species is called Christ’s-thorn (Z. jujuba). Ziziphuses are large trees with life-spans as great as 300 years; some species are branching shrubs measuring up to 4 m tall. The young shoots have thorns, and the leaves are ovate, oval, or, occasionally, lanceolate. The flowers are bisexual and cross-pollinating. Flowering occurs in May and lasts six to eight weeks. The fruit is a drupe measuring 3–4 cm long and up to 2.5 cm across. The thin, shiny skin is red-brown or yellow, often with spots. The thick light-green or white pulp is pleasantly sweet (containing as much as 30 percent sugars) and crisp; it separates from the stone after drying. After slight curing, especially on the tree, the fruits improve in flavor. The fruits are used fresh or in the preparation of compote, fruit candies, and jams. Fruiting begins in the third or fourth year. Wild forms occur in Southeast Asia, the Himalayas, North China, and Japan; cultivated species are found in Japan, Pakistan, Afghanistan, China, the USA, and the USSR (Turkmenia, Tadzhikstan, and Uzbekistan).
A. D. ALEKSANDROV