Persimmon Common - Diospyros virginiana L
American Persimmon in Shebekino
Fig. 1 magnifying glass
American Persimmon in Shebekino

American Persimmons (Diospyros virginiana / Ebenaceae)
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American Persimmons (Diospyros virginiana / Ebenaceae)

Persimmon flower
Fig. 6

Diospyros virginiana in flower
Fig. 7 magnifying glass

Leaf
Fig. 8 magnifying glass

Feuilles du plaqueminier de Virginie (Diospyros virginiana)
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Feuilles du plaqueminier de Virginie (Diospyros virginiana)

An American Persimmon Diospyros virginiana tree bearing fruit in the fall.
Fig. 10 magnifying glass
An American Persimmon Diospyros virginiana tree bearing fruit in the fall.The color of the tree's leaves are yellow because of the decrease in chlorophyll. Cartenoids provide the colorations of yellow, brown, orange, that tint the leaves.

Common persimmon fruit habit
Fig. 11 magnifying glass
Common persimmon fruit habit, Disopyros virginiana L.

Seeds
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Bark
Fig. 14 magnifying glass

Middle-aged Diospyros virginiana: common persimmon
Fig. 15 magnifying glass
Middle-aged Diospyros virginiana: common persimmon

Cedar Waxwings, Bombycilla cedrorum and American Robin, Turdus migratorius persimmon.
Fig. 16 magnifying glass
Cedar Waxwings, Bombycilla cedrorum and American Robin, Turdus migratorius persimmon.

Bee
Fig. 17 magnifying glass

Top
Scientific name
Diospyros virginiana L
Pronunciation
dye-OSS-pih-ross ver-jin-nee-AY-nuh 3
Common names
Eastern persimmon, possumwood, American ebony, white ebony, bara-bara, boa-wood, butterwood
Synonyms
Diospyros mosieri Small, D. virginiana L. var. mosieri (Small) Sarg., D. virginiana L. var. platycarpa Sarg., D. virginiana L. var. pubescens (Pursh) Dippel, D. virginiana L. var. virginiana 7
Relatives
Diospyros is a genus of over 550 species. 9 The closest relatives being the Black sapote, Diospyros dignia; mabolo, Velvet Apple, D. blancoi; Japanese persimmon, D. kaki; Texas persimmon D. texana; Date Plum (D. lotus)
Family
Ebenaceae
Origin
North America
USDA hardiness zones
4b- 9b
Uses
Fruit; reclamation; specimen; urban tolerant; highway median; bonsai 3
Height
40-60ft (18-18m)
Spread
20-35ft (6-10.6m)
Crown
Crown irregular, oval, pyramidal
Plant habit
The trunk typically ascends up through the crown in a curved but very dominant fashion, rarely producing double or multiple leaders 3
Growth rate
Moderate
Longevity
50-150 years
Trunk/bark/branches
Thick trunk; mature bark dark gray, thick and blocky;branches droop; thorns
Pruning requirement
Little required
Leaves
Deciduous; simple; alternate; glossy and leathery; 2-4in (5-10cm) wide; 4-8 in. (10-20.3cm) long
Flowers
Dioecious, require cross pollination
Fruit
Fruits only on female trees; round, 1-3in. (2.5-7.6cm); fleshy; orange; good fruit crops are borne every 2 years
Season
September -November
USDA Nutrient Content pdf
Light requirement
Partial shade to full sun
Soil tolerances
Clay; sand; loam; alkaline; acidic; extended flooding; well-drained
PH preference
Highly acidic to slightly alkaline
Drought tolerance
High
Aerosol salt tolerance
High
Cold tolerance
0 °F (-17 °C)
Plant spacing
15ft (4.6m)
Roots
Coarsely-branched; long tap root that makes transplanting difficult
Invasive potential *
Little invasive potential
Pest resistance
Sensitive to pests/diseases; susceptible to verticillium wilt

Top



Reading Material

Diospyros virginiana: Common Persimmon from the University of Florida pdf
American Persimmon from the University of Kentucky, Cooperative Extension Service pdf
Common Persimmon by the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service pdf
The American Persimmon from Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden
The Perfectly Pleasing Persimmon from Southern Illinois University



Origin

North America

Description
An excellent small to medium tree, common persimmon is an interesting, somewhat irregularly-shaped native tree, for possible naturalizing in yards or parks. It is well adapted to cities, but presents a problem with fruit litter, attracting flies and scavengers, such as opossums and other mammals. Its mature height can be 60 feet, with branches spreading from 20 to 35 feet and a trunk two feet thick, but it is commonly much shorter in landscapes. The trunk typically ascends up through the crown in a curved but very dominant fashion, rarely producing double or multiple leaders. Lateral branches are typically much smaller in diameter than the trunk. 2
The Persimmon is usually the last tree to leaf out in the spring and the first to lose it leaves in the fall, a strategy to thwart predatory insects. 5
The common name, persimmon, is the American Indian word for the fruit. 5
Virginiana is of Virginia but in botanical terms it always means North America. Persimmon is the Anglicized version of an Algonquin name that means “dry seed” or “dry fruit” referring to the high level of tannins in the unripe fruit. 5

Range
The tree is very common in the South Atlantic and Gulf states, and attains its largest size in the basin of the Mississippi River. Its habitat is southern, it appears along the coast from New York to Florida; west of the Alleghenies it is found in southern Ohio and along through southeastern Iowa and southern Missouri; when it reaches Louisiana, eastern Kansas and Oklahoma it becomes a mighty tree, one hundred fifteen feet high. 4

Range distribution map of Diospyros virginiana — American Persimmon.
Fig. 13 magnifying glass

Bark
(Fig. 14)
Dark brown or dark gray, deeply divided into plates whose surface is scaly. Branchlets slender, zigzag, with thick pith or large pith cavity; at first light reddish brown and pubescent. They vary in color from light brown to ashy gray and finally become reddish brown, the bark somewhat broken by longitudinal fissures. Astringent and bitter. 8

Leaves
Leaves are deciduous, simple, alternate, ovate to elliptic or oblong with smooth edges, 3.5-8 cm long, with an acuminate apex and rounded base, the lower surface usually lighter-colored, especially on young leaves. 2

Flowers
Flowers are either male (staminate) or female (pistillate), borne on separate trees (the species dioecious) on shoots of the current year after leafing; pistillate flowers solitary, sessile or short-stalked, bell-shaped, ca. 2 cm long, the corolla creamy to greenish-yellow, fragrant, usually with 4 thick, recurved lobes; staminate flowers in 2-3-flowered clusters, tubular, 8-13 mm long, greenish-yellow. 2

Fruit
Mature fruit may be yellow, orange, bright red, or blue in color. Fruit becomes soft and mushy while ripening. It is popularly believed that a hard frost is required to sweeten the fruit, but actually persimmons just require a long period for ripening. Edible fruits often hang on the trees through fall, and even into winter, unaffected by freezing temperatures. 1
'Meader' - The most commonly available cultivar, popular for its extreme hardiness and ability to fruit without a pollinator. Reaches 30'-40' tall and also serves as a good ornamental plant with handsome fall foliage. Developed at the University of New Hampshire. Other common fruiting varieties include 'John Rick', 'Early Golden', 'Garrettson', 'Prok', 'Meader'and 'Killen'.
Its fruit is an edible berry that usually ripens after frost, although some cultivars do not require the frost treatment to ripen. Before ripening, however, the fruit is decidedly astringent and not edible. Most American cultivars require both male and female trees for proper fruiting. 3
Note: If your mouth puckers when sampling a fruit, it is not ripe! The transformation from the unripe, astringent to the ripe, delicious sugary fruit is truly amazing - the two forms of persimmon fruits are as different as day and night. So if someone told you they once tried persimmon and it was terrible, they probably sampled an unripe fruit. 9

Varieties

The variety pubescens has fuzzy leaves and twigs. 3

'Meyer' seedless persimmon from Seymour, IN. 'Prok' D. virginiana persimmon cultivar 'Hudson' persimmon
Fig. 3 magnifying glass Fig. 4 magnifying glass Fig. 5 magnifying glass

Fig. 3. 'Meyer' seedless persimmon from Seymour, IN.
Fig. 4. 'Prok' D. virginiana persimmon cultivar
Fig. 5. 'Hudson' persimmon

Complete list of cultivars on persimmonpuding.com

Harvesting

Persimmon trees propagated from seeds begin producing a crop in about 4 to 9 years, while grafted trees can begin fruiting 3 years after planting. It may take as many as 10 years for trees to come into full production. 1
Persimmons can be stored just above freezing for approximately 3 months. 1

Pollination
Male and female flowers are usually borne on separate trees, but female flowers can self pollinate. 6

Propagation
Persimmon can be propagated from seeds, cuttings, suckers, and grafts. Plants can be easily produced from seed after a 3-month period of seed stratification. Seedlings that are one to two years old may be transplanted to the orchard. To ensure high quality plants and fruit, however, it is best to plant grafted or budded trees. Persimmon has a long taproot that can make transplanting more difficult. 1

Pruning
Persimmon trees, which are pruned to open center or modified central leader, require little pruning once they reach bearing size. 1
Pruning should be done during the winter to remove the height from the tree and to form the canopy. Because there are no leaves, it is easy to visualize your pruning work. 6

Culture

The trees grow following the end of the dry season and usually flush only once. Their growth is slow; the home gardener has to have a degree of patience. 6

Fertilizing
The trees should be heavily mulched and fertilizer should be applied once at the beginning of the rainy season with a granular formulation of 8-3-9. 6

Diseases
Common persimmon is troubled by a leaf-spot disease that may limit its use in the South. This disease causes black spots on the leaves and premature defoliation, sometimes in August in the North, September in the South. It will not kill the tree but the litter from early defoliation may be objectionable. 3
It is also susceptible to a vascular wilt which can be devastating to established trees. 3

Maintenance

Except for cleaning up the messy fruit if it falls on a patio or sidewalk, common persimmon maintenance is quite easy and it could be planted more. Locate it where the slimy fruit will not fall on sidewalks and cause people to slip and fall. 3

Food Uses
The pulp can be used to make jelly, syrup, beer, wine, liquor, bread, pancakes, pudding, molasses, fruit leather, dried fruit and ink. The pulp can also be frozen and eaten like ice cream.
A peanut-like cooking oil can be squeeze from the seeds. 5
Dried Persimmon Recipe from Just Fruits and Exotics Nursery

Medicinal Uses **
Another use for a persimmon tree is reportedly as a remedy for the itch of poison ivy. Remove a few twigs from a persimmon tree, cover with water, and boil for 20 minutes. Strain and cool the liquid. Several applications is said to dry the rash. 5

Other Uses
Persimmon is a member of the ebony family.
The wood is close grained, heavy, hard, and strong. The American persimmon is perfect for cultivating bromeliads and orchids, which root easily on the trunk and thrive with the ample winter light within the bare canopy. Because of its hardness, smoothness, and even texture, it was particularly desirable for wood turning and even making golf club heads. 6
Specific gravity, 0.7908; weight of cubic foot, 49.28 lb (22.35 kg). The heartwood is a true ebony. Forestry texts indicate that about a century of growth is required before a tree will produce a commercially viable yield of ebony wood. 8

General
The tree grows well in the South Florida landscape and excels with seasonal inundation, unlike most of our home garden fruit. The tree is small, less than 20 feet in height, and it sprouts profusely from the roots, forming a persimmon coppice over time. It is a slow-growing tree. The tree is admired for its picturesque form, zig-zag branching, beautiful foliage and colorful fruit. The glossy, leathery leaves make the persimmon tree a nice addition to the landscape. It is also one of the only trees we have in South Florida that can provide Autumnal color to our landscapes. 6


Further Reading
PersimmonPudding.com is a comprehensive source of information on D. virginiana
Persimmon from Clemson University Cooperative Extension pdf
Persimmons from AgriLife Extension, Texas A&M System pdf 4 pages
Persimmon Provisions by Green Deane from eattheweeds.com.
Home Garden: Persimmons from the University of Georgia Extension pdf
The common persimmon (Diospyros virginiana L.): The history of an underutilized fruit tree (16th-19th centuries) by C.H. Briand pdf 19 pages
Common Persimmon from the USDA Northeastern Area State and Private Forestry pdf 9 pages
Persimmons, Asian and American from the National Sustainable Agriculture Information service  pdf 8 pages
Persimmons: An Over-View of Cultivars, Production, Harvesting, and Marketing from the Washington State University pdf 57 pages
Persimmon Botanical Art


List of Growers and Vendors

Bibliography

1 Strang, John and Wright, Shawn. "American Persimmon." extension.ca.uky.edu. University of Kentucky, College of Agriculture. Issued 2008. Revised 2011. Web. 3 Feb. 2015.
2 Nesom, Guy. "Common Persimmon." plants.usda.gov. Formerly BONAP, North Carolina Botanical Garden, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Edited 29 Nov. 2000, 10 June 2003, 6 June 2006. Web. 3 Feb. 2015.
3 Gilman, Edward F. and Watson, Dennis G. "Diospyros virginiana: Common Persimmon." edis.ifas.ufl.edu. This document is ENH390, one of a series of the Environmental Horticulture Department, UF/IFAS Extension. Publication date Nov. 1993. Reviewed May 2014. Web. 3 Feb. 2015.
4 Chisholm, Hugh, ed. "Persimmon". Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. 1911. Print.
5 Deane, Green . "Persimmon Provisions". eattheweeds.com. Web. 2 Feb. 2015.
6 Ledesma, Noris. "The American Persimmon". fairchildgarden.org. 7 May. 2012. Web. 7 Feb. 2015.
7 "Common persimmon, Diospyros virginiana L. synomyms." plants.usda.gov. USDA, NRCS. The PLANTS Database   National Plant Data Team, Greensboro, NC 27401-4901 USA. Web. 2 May 2016.
Diospyros virginiana. wikipedia.org. Web 3 May 2016.
9 Nickrent, Dan. "The Perfectly Pleasing Persimmon". plantbiology.siu.edu. Web. 2 Feb. 2015.

Photographs

Fig. 1 Лобачев Владимир. American Persimmon in Shebekino. 2013. commons.wikimedia.org. Under (CC BY-SA 3.0). Web. 3 Feb. 2015.
Fig. 2 Ghosh, Asit K. Thaumaturgist. American Persimmons (Diospyros virginiana / Ebenaceae).  2005. commons.wikimedia.org. Tampa, Florida. Web. 3 Feb. 2015.
Fig. 3 Bruce_crossing. 'Prok' D. virginiana persimmon cultivar. 2008. flickr.com. Under (CC BY-SA 2.0). Web. 4 Feb. 2015.
Fig. 4 Bruce_crossing. Meyer seedless persimmon from Seymour, IN. 2008. flickr.com. Under (CC BY-SA 2.0). Web. 4 Feb. 2015.
bruce_crossing.  2008.
Fig. 5 Ledesma, Noris. 'Hudson'  Persimmon. 2012.  fairchildgarden.org. Web. 3 May 2016.
Fig. 6 Pollinator. American Persimmon Flower. 2004. commons.wikimedia.org. Under  (CC BY-SA 3.0) and GNU Free Documentation License, version 1.2. Web. 3 Feb. 2015.
Fig. 7 Fritzflohrreynolds. Photo of Diospyros virginiana in flower. 2012. commons.wikimedia.org. Under (CC BY-SA 3.0). Web. 3 Feb. 2015.
Fig. 8 Mohlenbrock, Robert H.. Common persimmon, Diospyros virginiana L. leaf." plants.usda.gov. USDA, NRCS. The PLANTS Database National Plant Data Team, Greensboro, NC 27401-4901 USA. Web. 2 May 2016.
Fig. 9 Grandmont, Jean-Pol. Feuilles du plaqueminier de Virginie (Diospyros virginiana)." 2007. commons.wikimedia.org. Web. 3 Feb. 2015.
Fig. 10 GPhoto. An American Persimmon Diospyros virginiana tree bearing fruit in the fall." 2006. commons.wikimedia.org. Web. 3 Feb. 2015.
Fig. 11 Grogloth, Carole. Persimmons. 2013.  flickr.com. Under (CC BY 2.0.). Molokai Hawaii. Web. 3 May 2016.
Fig. 12  Hurst, Steve. Common persimmon, Diospyros virginiana L. seeds. plants.usda.gov. USDA, NRCS. The PLANTS Database National Plant Data Team, Greensboro, NC 27401-4901 USA. Web. 2May 2016.
Fig. 13 Little, Elbert L. Jr.  Range distribution map of Diospyros virginiana — American Persimmon. 1999. commons.wikimedia.org. Digital representation of "Atlas of United States Trees." Web. 3 Feb. 2015.
Fig. 14 Ritter, M., Mark, W. and Reimer, J. Diospyros virginiana Tree Record. 1995-2015. selectree.calpoly.edu. Web. 4 Feb. 2015.
Fig. 15 Gilman, Ed. Middle-aged Diospyros virginiana: common persimmon. N.d. edis.ifas.ufl.edu. University of Florida IFAS extension. Web. 3 Jan. 2015.
Fig. 16 Derevan, Rick. Cedar Waxwings, Bombycilla cedrorum and American Robin, Turdus migratorius persimmon. 2013. flickr.com. Under (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0). Web. 3 May 2016.
Fig. 17 Adams, Susan E. My Persimmon! 2009. flickr.com. Web. 4 Feb. 2015.

UF/IFAS Assessment of Non-native Plants in Florida's Natural Areas
** Information provided is not intended to be used as a guide for treatment of medical conditions.

Published 12 Apr. 2014 LR. Last update 11 June 2016 LR
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