From the book
Fruits of Warm Climates
by Julia F. Morton
Cropping and Yield
Packing, Keeping Quality and Storage
In great contrast to the native American persimmon, Diospyros virginiana
L., which has never advanced beyond the status of a minor fruit, an
oriental member of the family Ebenaceae, D. kaki L. f ., is
prominent in horticulture. Perhaps best-known in America as the
Japanese, or Oriental, persimmon, it is also called kaki (in Spanish,
caqui), Chinese plum or, when dried, Chinese fig.
Plate LIX: JAPANESE PERSIMMON, Diospyros
The tree, reaching 15 to 60 ft (4.5-18 m) is long-lived and typically
round-topped, fairly open, erect or semi-erect, sometimes crooked or
willowy; seldom with a spread of more than 15 to 20 ft (4.5-6 m). The
leaves are deciduous, alternate, with brown-hairy petioles 3/4 in (2
cm) long; are ovate-elliptic, oblong-ovate, or obovate, 3 to 10 in
(7.5-25 cm) long, 2 to 4 in (5-10 cm) wide, leathery, glossy on the
upper surface, brown-silky beneath; bluish-green, turning in the fall
to rich yellow, orange or red. Male and female flowers are usually
borne on separate trees; sometimes perfect or female flowers are found
on male trees, and occasionally male flowers on female trees. Male
flowers, in groups of 3 in the leaf axils, have 4-parted calyx and
corolla and 24 stamens in 2 rows. Female flowers, solitary, have a
large leaflike calyx, a 4-parted, pale-yellow corolla, 8 undeveloped
stamens and oblate or rounded ovary bearing the style and stigma.
Perfect flowers are intermediate between the two. The fruit, capped by
the persistent calyx, may be round, conical, oblate, or nearly square,
has thin, smooth, glossy, yellow, orange, red or brownish-red skin,
yellow, orange, or dark-brown, juicy, gelatinous flesh, seedless or
containing 4 to 8 flat, oblong, brown seeds 3/4 in (2 cm) long.
Generally, the flesh is bitter and astringent until fully ripe, when it
becomes soft, sweet and pleasant, but dark-fleshed types may be
non-astringent, crisp, sweet and edible even before full ripening.
Origin and Distribution
The tree is native to Japan, China, Burma and the Himalayas and Khasi
Hills of northern India. In China it is found wild at altitudes up to
6,000-8,000 ft (1,830-2,500 m) and it is cultivated from Manchuria
southward to Kwangtung. Early in the 14th Century, Marco Polo recorded
the Chinese trade in persimmons. Korea has long-established ceremonies
that feature the persimmon. Culture in India began in the Nilgiris. The
tree has been grown for a long time in North Vietnam, in the mountains
of Indonesia above 3,500 ft (1,000 m) and in the Philippines. It was
introduced into Queensland, Australia, about 1885.
It has been cultivated on the Mediterranean coast of France, Italy, and
other European countries, and in southern Russia and Algeria for more
than a century. The first trees were introduced into Palestine in 1912
and others were later brought in from Sicily and America.
Seeds first reached the United States in 1856 when they were sent from
Japan by Commodore Perry. Grafted trees were imported in 1870 by the
U.S. Department of Agriculture and distributed to California and the
southern states. Other importations were made by private interests
until 1919. Seeds, cuttings, budwood and live trees of numerous types
were brought into the United States at various times from 1911 to 1923
by government plant explorers and the tree has been found best adapted
to central and southern California, Arizona, Texas, Louisiana,
Mississippi, Georgia, Alabama, southeastern Virginia, and northern
Florida. A few specimens have been grown in southern Maryland, eastern
Tennessee, Illinois, Indiana, Pennsylvania, New York, Michigan and
By 1930, California had over 98,000 bearing trees and nearly 97,000
non-bearing, on 3,000 acres (1,214 ha). California production in 1965
amounted to 2,100 tons. Real estate development reduced persimmon
groves to 540 acres by 1968. In 1970, California produced 1,600
tons–92% of the total U.S. crop.
In parts of Central America, Japanese persimmons have been planted from
sea-level to 5,000 ft (1,524 m). The tree was first grown in Brazil by
Japanese immigrants. By 1961, the total crop was 2,271,046,000 fruits,
mainly in the State of Ceará, followed by Pernambuco and
Piaui, with Bahia far behind. At present, the largest orchards are
mainly in the States of Sao Paulo, Parana and Rio Grande do Sul, with
lesser groves in Minais Gerais and Espirtu Santo. Of 111,412 acres
(45,088 ha) all told, 60,336 acres (24,418 ha) are in Ceará.
Israel and Italy have developed commercial plantings, and cultivar
trials began in 1976 with a view to establishing persimmon-growing for
export in southeastern Queensland.
Plate LX: JAPANESE PERSIMMON, Diospyros
Of the 2,000 cultivars known in China, cuttings of 52, from the
provinces of Honan, Shensi and Shansi, were brought into the United
States in 1914. J. Russell Smith, an esteemed economic-geographer,
collected a number of types near the Great Wall of China in 1925 and
some of the trees still survive in his derelict orchard in the Blue
Ridge Mountains of southern Virginia.
Over 800 kinds are grown in Japan but less than 100 are considered
important. Among prominent cultivars are the non-astringent 'Fuyu',
'Jiro', 'Gosho' and 'Suruga'; the astringent 'Hiratanenashi',
'Hachiya', 'Aizumishirazu', 'Yotsumizo' and 'Yokono'. It was formerly
believed that the flesh color and astringency can vary considerably
depending on whether or not the flowers were effectively pollinated,
and cultivars were classed as: 1) Pollination Constants; and 2)
It has been recently discovered that there are two different mechanisms
affecting astringency; one is degree of pollination, the other is the
amount of ethanol produced in the seeds and accumulated in the flesh.
Pollination Variant fruits with naturally high levels of ethanol lose
astringency on the tree. So does Pollination Constant 'Fuyu' but other
non-astringent Pollination Constant cultivars have been found to have
low levels of ethanol. Pomologists at Kyoto University, Japan, have
classified 40 cultivars into 4 types depending upon the ways or degrees
their fruits lose astringency on the tree and upon flesh color
–Pollination Constant Non-astringent (PCNA), Pollination
Variant Non-astringent (PVNA), Pollination Variant Astringent (PVA) and
Pollination Constant Astringent (PCA). They evidently have not studied
Dr. H.H. Hume, of the University of Florida, separated 13 seeded and
seedless (or nearly seedless) cultivars according to the earlier
pollination classification, and Drs. Camp and Mowry added 'Fuyu'. The
following 8 comprise Group 1:
'Costata'–conical, pointed, somewhat 4-sided, 2 5/8 in (6.5
cm) long, 2 1/8 in (5.4 cm) wide, with salmon-yellow skin, light-yellow
flesh, with no seeds; or dark flesh and a few seeds. Astringent until
fully ripe, then sweet; late (Oct.-Nov. in Florida). Keeps very well.
'Fuyu' (or 'Fuyugaki')–oblate, faintly 4-sided, 2 in (5 cm)
long; 2 3/4 in (7 cm) wide; skin deep-orange; flesh light-orange; firm
when ripe; non-astringent even when unripe; with few seeds or none.
Keeps well; excellent packer and shipper. It is the most popular
non-astringent persimmon in Florida. 'Matsumoto Early Fuyu' ripens
three weeks earlier.
'Hachiya'–oblong-conical, 3 3/4 in (9.5 cm) long, 3 1/4 in
(8.25 cm) wide; skin glossy, deep orange-red; flesh dark-yellow with
occasional black streaks; astringent until fully ripe and soft, then
sweet and rich. Seedless or with a few seeds. Midseason to late. Much
used in Japan for drying. Tree vigorous, well-formed and prolific in
Kulu Valley, India. Scanty bearer in southeastern United States; does
well on D. virginiana in Florida, but tends to growth-ring cracking;
often prolific in California.
'Ormond'–oblong-conical, 2 5/8 in (6.5 cm) long, 1 7/8 in
(4.7 cm) thick. Skin reddish-yellow with thin bloom; flesh orange-red,
moderately juicy; seeds large. Very late (Nov. and Dec. in Florida).
'Tamopan'–Introduced from China in 1905, again in 1916
(S.P.I. Nos. 16912, 16921, 26773). Broad oblate, somewhat 4-sided;
indented around the middle or closer to the base; 3 to 5 in (7.5-12.5
cm) wide; skin thick, orange-red; flesh light-orange, usually
astringent until fully ripe, then sweet and rich. In some parts of
China and Japan said to be non-astringent. Seedless or nearly so. Of
medium quality; late (Nov.) in Florida; midseason in California. Was
being grown commercially in North Carolina and at Glen St. Mary,
Florida, in 1916.
'Tanenashi'–round-conical, 3 1/3 in (8.3 cm) long, 3 3/8 in
(8.5 cm) wide; skin light-yellow or orange, turning orange-red; thick;
flesh yellow, astringent until soft, then sweet; seedless. Early;
prolific. Much esteemed. Much used for drying in Japan. Leading
cultivar in southeastern United States without pollination. In
California tends to bear in alternate years.
'Triumph'–oblate, faintly 4-sided; of small to medium size;
skin yellowish to dark orange-red. Flesh yellowish-red, translucent,
soft, juicy; seedless or with 5 to 8 seeds; astringent until fully
ripe, then sweet. Of high quality. Medium-late. In Florida begins in
September and lasts until mid-November.
'Tsuru'–long-conical, pointed; 3 3/8 in (8.5 cm) long, 2 3/8
in (6 cm) wide; skin bright orange-red, turning red with purple bloom
when mature; flesh orange-yellow or dark-yellow, granular; astringent
until fully ripe; with few or no seeds. Very late.
'Gailey'–roundish to conical with rounded apex; small; skin
dull-red, pebbled; flesh dark, firm, juicy, of good flavor. Bears many
male flowers regularly and is planted for cross-pollination.
'Hyakume'–round-oblong to round-oblate, somewhat 4-angled and
flat at both ends; 2 3/4 in (7 cm) long, 3 1/8 in (8 cm) wide; skin
pale dull-yellow to light-orange, with brown russeting when ripe; flesh
dark-brown, crisp, sweet, non-astringent whether hard or ripe.
Midseason. Fairly good quality; somewhat unattractive externally.
Stores and ships well.
'Okame'–round-oblate, 2 3/8 in (6 cm) long, 3 1/8 in (8 cm)
wide; skin orange-yellow turning to bright-red with waxy bloom; flesh
light but brownish around the seeds; sometimes seedless; sweet, of
excellent quality. Fairly early, beginning about Sept. 1 in Florida.
'Yeddo-ichi'–oblate, 2 1/2 in (6.25 cm) long, 3 in (7.5 cm)
wide; skin dark orange-red with a bloom; flesh dark-brown with purplish
tint; sweet, rich, non-astringent whether hard or ripe. Of high quality.
'Yemon'–oblate, 4-sided; 2 1/4 in (5.7 cm) long, 3 1/4 in
(8.25 cm) wide; skin light-yellow becoming reddish with orange-yellow
mottling; flesh red-brown or light-colored, astringent at first, sweet
after softening; seedless or with few seeds and then dark around the
seeds. Of high quality, but becomes too soft for shipping.
'Zengi' ('Zengimaru')–round or round-oblate, 1 3/4 in (4.5
cm) long, 2 1/4 in (5.6 cm) wide. Skin dark orange-red or yellow-red;
flesh dark with black streaks; sweet even when hard; with some seeds.
Early, prolific; of medium quality.
Cultivars that are especially hardy in Maryland, Pennsylvania and
Virginia include: 'Atome', 'Benigaki', 'Delicious', 'Eureka', 'Great
Wall', 'Manerh', 'Okame', 'Peiping', 'Pen', 'Shaumopan', 'Sheng,'
'Tsurushigaki', 'Yokono', etc.
'Delicious' is oblate, medium to large; skin is smooth, light-red;
flesh light-yellow, non-astringent when hard, but more flavorful when
soft; contains a few seeds; tree is vigorous and a regular bearer.
'Eureka' (from Texas) is oblate, medium to large, puckered at calyx,
bright orange-red, astringent; of good quality; drought and
frost-resistant; late (Nov. in Florida). One of the most satisfactory
'Great Wall' is small, flat, 4-sided with fine black stripes extending
from the calyx; astringent, dry-fleshed; tree is vigorous, a biennial
bearer; does well in Florida.
'Hanafuyu' is oblate, non-astringent and usually seedless;
late-midseason; tree is small, bears regularly but yield is low; prone
to premature shedding of fruit; fairly common in northern Florida.
'Ichikikeijiro' is medium-large, orange, non-astringent;
early-ripening; tree is not vigorous but still this cultivar is among
the best of the non-astringent class in Florida.
'Jumbu' resembles 'Fuyu' but is somewhat more conical and larger;
non-astringent; edible either firm or soft. Ripens a little later than
'Tuyu'; of good quality.
'Ogasha' is oblate, non-astringent and usually seedless; prone to
immature shedding of fruit; fairly common in northern Florida.
'Sheng' is large, ribbed, puckered at calyx, astringent; popular in
Florida; bears annually when pollinated.
'Shogatsu' is flattened, non-astringent, of fair quality; bears an
abundance of male flowers. Does well in Florida.
'Siajo' is small, astringent, of good quality and flavor; performs well
'Taber No. 23' is round to oblate with flat apex; fairly small; skin is
dark-red, stippled. Begins to ripen in September in Florida.
'Yamato Hyakume' is large, with red skin; has little tannin when seed
content is low; tends to growth-ring cracking; is a heavy bearer in
'Yokono' is large, orange-red, astringent, of good quality; bears well
but tends to shed fruit; keeps well.
Maru is a group name for several roundish types of Japanese persimmon
with brilliant orange-red skin, cinnamon-colored flesh; medium to small
in size; flesh is juicy, sweet, richly flavored; they have excellent
keeping quality after ripening, store and ship well and are very
At the Pomological Station, Coonor, India, an unnamed type and a named
cultivar, 'Dai Dai Maru' have performed well. The unnamed cultivar is
broad at the base, large, attractive, deep-red, astringent until fully
ripe, then very sweet; bears well regularly. The tree is semi-erect.
'Dai Dai Maru' has a broadly rounded apex, is of medium size;
orange-red, glossy, with a slight bloom; has dark flesh, is not edible
until fully cured; seedless unless cross-pollinated; bears good crops
regularly. The tree is of semi-erect habit.
In Brazil, cultivars are sorted into 3 groups. Group 1, 'Sibugaki',
includes those that are yellow-fleshed, always astringent whether
seedless or not ('Taubaté', 'Hachiya', 'Trakoukaki',
'Taubatá', the most popular of this group, is round,
slightly flattened, large, yellow-fleshed, very astringent; highly
perishable, lasting only 3 to 4 days after ripening.
Group 2, 'Amagaki', includes those that are yellow-fleshed, never
astringent whether seedless or not ('Jiro', 'Tuyu', 'Hannagosho').
'Hannagosho' is of excellent quality but in Florida is slow in losing
astringency and the tree is deficient in male flowers.
'Jiro' is second to 'Fuyu' in importance in Japan; is of high quality
and ships well. The fruit is colorful and the tree vigorous in Florida.
'Jiro' is second to 'Fuyu' in importance in Japan; is of high quality
and ships well. The fruit is colorful and the tree vigorous in Florida.
Group 3, 'Variavel', or 'Variaveis', includes those that are astringent
when they have several seeds, and partially or totally non-astringent
when they have only one or a few seeds. The flesh is yellow when there
are no seeds and dark when seeds are present ('Rama Forte', 'Guiombo',
'Luiz de Queiroz', 'Hyakume', 'Chocolate', etc.).
'Guiombo' (perhaps the same as 'Korean') is one of the best in Florida,
with thin skin; but it is a biennial bearer when young.
'Rama Forte', the most popular of this group is oblate, medium to
large, with dark-yellow flesh, or dark-brown when there are many seeds;
keeps well–8 to 10 days at room temperature after ripening;
yields 30% more than 'Taubaté' and its branches are less apt
to break under a heavy crop.
The Instituto Agronomico do Estado de Sao Paulo has developed various
In 1922, seeds of 'Kai Sam T'sz' (chicken-heart persimmon) from Canton,
China, were sent to the United States Department of Agriculture as a
subtropical cultivar which might be appropriate for southern Florida
and the West Indies in contrast to the hardier types brought in from
Japan and northern and central China, but it seems to have soon dropped
out of sight.
Among commercial cultivars in Japan not already mentioned are:
'Suruga' (distributed in 1959); orange-red, non-astringent, very sweet,
'Gosho', orange-red, non-astringent, sweet, of high quality but giving
a low yield because of excessive shedding of immature fruits.
'Hiratanenashi', oblate, somewhat 4-sided, astringent, thick-skinned;
seedless; of high quality, but keeps only a short time after curing;
mostly used for drying.
'Aizumishirazu', rounded, astringent, black-spotted around seeds; of
fair quality; bears well.
'Yotsumizo', small, astringent, usually seedless, sweet after curing;
bears well; often dried.
Of six cultivars tested in Queensland ('Tanenashi', 'Hyakume', 'Dai Dai
Maru', 'Tsuru Magri', 'Flat Seedless', and 'Nightingale'), all grafted
on D. lotus, only 'Nightingale' proved satisfactory in fruit quality
and yield in an assessment made after 3 years of fruiting.
'Nightingale' is classed as PCA (pollination constant, astringent); is
conical, 3 1/2 in (9 cm) long; red; of distinctive flavor; with an
average of 2 1/2 seeds per fruit. The tree is semi-dwarf and fairly
Some cultivars in certain locations and under some conditions, will
fruit abundantly without cross-pollination, but this trait is not
dependable. In commercial groves, the cultivar known as 'Gailey', which
regularly produces many male flowers, is interplanted to insure
adequate pollination. The formula is one male for every 8 female trees,
uniformly dispersed throughout the grove; or 12 to 24 pollinating trees
per acre (30-60 per ha). Japanese farmers sometimes plant the
pollinating trees as a hedge around the grove. If hand-pollination of
early cultivars is necessary, unopened male buds are collected, dried,
opened and the pollen separated and stored. When needed, it is mixed
with skimmed milk or club moss (Lycopodium) and applied at 1/7 to 2/7
oz per acre (10-20 g per ha).
If the flowers are not effectively pollinated, the entire crop of fruit
may fall prematurely. This is a fault of the cultivar 'Isu' in Japan.
Losses can be reduced by girdling the tree after flowering but the
practice has the effect of retarding growth. If the weather is hot and
dry at blooming time, pollination will be inadequate and very few
fruits will be set. The maintenance of bee colonies (1 or 2 hives for
every 2 1/2 acres, or per ha) in persimmon orchards will enhance
pollination, especially in cultivar 'Fuyu'.
The Japanese persimmon needs a subtropical to mild-temperate climate.
It will not fruit in tropical lowlands. In Brazil, the tree is
considered suitable for all zones favorable to Citrus, but those zones
with the coldest winters induce the highest yields. The atmosphere may
range from semi-arid to one of high humidity.
Trees in the Middle Atlantic States have been known to have withstood
temperatures as low as 20º F (-6.67º C) and to have
remained in excellent condition and fruitful after 40 years.
The tree is not particular as to soil, and does well on any moderately
fertile land with deep friable subsoil. In Florida, a sandy loam with
clay subsoil promotes good growth. While the young tree needs plentiful
watering, good drainage is essential.
Indonesians propagate the tree by means of root suckers. In the Orient,
selected cultivars are raised from seed or grafted onto wild rootstocks
of the same species, or onto the close relative, D. lotus L. In the
eastern United States, the trees are grafted onto the native American
persimmon, D. virginiana. This rootstock significantly contributes to
California growers have found D. kaki the most satisfactory rootstock,
D. lotus rootstock resulting in much lower yields.
Seeds for the production of rootstocks need no pretreatment. They are
planted in seedbeds or directly in the nursery row 8 to 12 in (20-30
cm) apart with 3 to 3 1/2 ft (0.9-1.06 m) between the rows. After a
season of growth, they may be whip-grafted close to the surface of the
soil, using freshly cut scions or scions from dormant trees kept moist
in sphagnum moss.
Cleft-grafting is preferred on larger stock and for top-working old
trees. In India, cleft-grafting on stem has been 88.9% successful;
while cleft-grafting on crown and tongue-grafting on stem have been
73.4% successful when the grafted plants were left for 2 weeks at about
77º F (25º C) and relative humidity of 75% for 2
weeks before planting.
In the Kulu Valley, India, scions are grafted onto 2-year-old D. lotus
seedlings which are mounded with earth to cover the graft until it
begins to sprout. At the Fruit Research Station, Kandaghat, 2-year-old
D. lotus seedlings were used as rootstock for veneer and tongue grafts
from cv 'Hachiya' between late June and the third week of August.
Success rates ranged from 80 to 100%.
In Palestine, trees grafted on D. lotus and grown on light soil are
dwarfish, fruit heavily at first, but are weak and short-lived. Those
grafted on D. virginiana are larger and vigorous and bear heavily
consistently. The only disadvantage is that the shallow root system
fans out to 65 ft (20 m) from the base of the tree and wherever the
roots are injured by cultivation, suckers spring up and become a
The soil should be well prepared–deeply plowed and enriched
with organic matter. Trees should be set out at spacings ranging from
15 x 5 ft (4.5 x l.5 m) to 20 x 20 ft (6 x 6 m), depending on the habit
of the cultivar. In Japan, 404.7 plants per acre (1,000 per ha) may be
installed at the outset, to be thinned down to 85 trees per acre (200
per ha) in 10-15 years.
Good results have been obtained with a fertilizer mixture of 4 to 6% N,
8 to 10% P and 3 to 6% K at the rate of 1 lb (.45 kg) per tree per year
of age. Generally the application is made in spring, but some growers
apply half in the spring, half in July. Over-fertilization or excessive
amounts of nitrogen fertilizers will cause shedding of fruits.
Young trees are pruned back to 2 1/2 ft to 3 ft (.74-.91 m) when
planted and later the new shoots are thinned with a view to forming a
well-shaped tree. Some cultivars tend to develop a willowy growth and
require cutting back occasionally to avoid the development of weak
branches which break when heavy with fruit. Annual pruning during the
first 4 to 5 winters is desirable in some cultivars. If a tree tends to
overbear and shows signs of decline, it should be drastically cut back
to give it a fresh start.
After flowering, the trees should be irrigated every 3 weeks on light
soil, every month on heavier soil, until time for harvest. One
California grower, with trees on deep river loam, has provided furrow
irrigation every 2 weeks from April through September. Branches are
fragile and must be propped when heavily laden with fruits.
Cropping and Yield
Many cultivars begin to bear 3-4 years after planting out; others after
5-6 years. Shedding of many blossoms, immature and nearly mature fruits
is characteristic of the Japanese persimmon as well as the tendency
toward alternate bearing. The annual yield of a young tree ranges from
50 to 96 lbs (22.6-40.8 kg); of a full-grown tree, 330 to 550 lbs
(150-250 kg). Estimated yield in Brazil is 6.5 tons per acre (15 tons
per ha), but yields will vary with the cultivar and cultural practices.
Harvesting takes place in fall and early winter. Late ripening
cultivars may be picked after hard frosts or light-snowfall. Japan
produces about 300,000 tons per year.
Japanese growers use color charts to determine when each cultivar is
ready for harvest. Astringent cultivars are picked when fully mature
but hard and are cured before marketing.
In the Orient, much of the crop is left in piles covered by bamboo mats
to cure (near-freeze) naturally and is marketed throughout the winter.
In some parts of China, the fruit is cured in covered pits by
introducing the smoke from burning dung. There are several other
methods of curing: soaking in vinegar or immersing in boiling water and
letting stand for 12 hours. 'Hachiya' fruits kept in warm water
–104º F (40º C)–for 24 hours will
be firm and non-astringent 2 days after treatment. One practice is to
leave the astringent fruits in lime water for 2 days but tests have
shown no advantage of a lime solution over pure water except that lime
disinfects and can prevent the rotting that might follow soaking.
In Japan, the fruits may be sprayed with ethanol, or stored for 10 days
to 2 weeks in kegs which previously contained sake; or they may be
stored in air-tight containers with ethylene gas for 3 days. Carbon
dioxide is widely employed and the treatment consists of storing in a
95% CO2 atmosphere for 24 hours at 68º to 77º F
(20º-25º C), but the fruit softens very quickly
thereafter. In Brazil, successful curing has been achieved by immersing
'Taubate' persimmons in 1,000 ppm solution of ethephon (an ethylene
generator) for 1 hour and then storing at room temperature for 4 days.
Large quantities are cured by exposure to the fumes of alcohol
(aguardiente), acetylene gas from combustion of calcium carbonate, or
gas from burning sawdust, in hermetically sealed chambers at
temperatures between 68º and 82.4º F (20º
and 28º C) at relative humidity of 80%. Various other chemical
processes and gamma radiation have been successfully employed in other
A simple method was discovered in California some years ago. The newly
picked fruits were merely pierced once at the apex with a needle dipped
in alcohol, then the fruits were layered with straw in a tightly closed
box for 10 days. The homeowner may merely keep the fruits at room
temperature in a closed vessel or plastic bag for 2-4 days with
bananas, pears, tomatoes, apples, or other fruits which give off
ethylene gas. In India, the persimmons are individually paper-wrapped
and placed in alternate rows with 'Kieffer' pears in a closed container
and are edible in 3 days. Non-astringent cultivars need no curing.
Packing, Keeping Quality and Storage
In California, persimmons are graded by size, then tissue-wrapped and
packed in peach boxes for rail shipment in refrigerated cars. Packing
in other areas is similar. Astringent types soften in 2 or 3 days after
treatment and quickly become overripe. Non-astringent types are usually
harder than astringent types when picked, and they therefore ship and
keep better. Persimmons have been kept for 2 months at 30º F
(-1.11º C) and 85-90% relative humidity. 'Triumph' is
frequently stored in Israel for as long as 4 months at 30º F
(-1.11º C). Persimmons have been kept in good condition for
several months in sealed 0.06 mm polyethylene bags at 32º F
Spraying the bearing branches with gibberellic acid 3 days before
harvest has retarded maturity on the tree; has doubled the storage life
of astringent types after curing.
Pests and Diseases
In Brazil, premature fall of 'Fuyu' is partly linked to heavy
infestation by the mite, Aceria diospyri. Spraying with Sevin 85 ppm 3
times at 30-day intervals right after petal fall controls the mite and
increases yield. Retithrips syriacus feeds on and blemishes the leaves
and fruit skin in Palestine but has been controlled by spraying with
nicotine sulfate. The greenhouse thrips (Heliothrips haemorrhoidalis)
blemishes fruits in Queensland. San José scale is combatted
by a dormant application of Bordeaux in diesel emulsion in India. In
Florida, white peach scale, Pseudaulacaspis pentagona, has required
control and a twig girdler, Onsideres cingulatus, has been troublesome.
Also, a flat-headed borer drills into the bark and the wood causing
oozing of gum and decline in vigor. The main enemies in the eastern
United States are mealybugs which distort young shoots and kill all new
growth unless controlled. They do not seriously affect mature trees.
In Brazil and Queensland, fruit flies may attack the fruits, especially
in dry years. Tree-ripe persimmons are sought by all kinds of birds,
especially by parrots and crows in India, where flying foxes are a
nocturnal menace. The less astringent types seem to be preferred by all
of these predators. Bird-repellent sprays have given good control in
Queensland. There, sunburn affects marketability especially of
'Tanenashi' and 'Tsuru magri'.
In India, low germination rates of planted seeds has been traced to dry
rot caused by Penicillium sp. It can be controlled by pretreatment with
an appropriate fungicide.
D. lotus rootstock is subject to root rot and crown gall in Florida but
resistant to wilt caused by Cephalosporium diospyri which induces
severe defoliation and has killed trees on D. virginiana rootstock. In
Brazil, Cercospora may spot the leaves, and a virus causes
"mosaic"–mottling of leaves and premature leaf fall, shedding
of flowers, and necrotic spots on fruits; also a different necrosis on
the tree and the bark of shoots, twigs and branches that causes
die-back. Anthracnose occurs on fruits that have slightly cracked or
have been pierced by insects. In Florida, leaf spot, algal leaf spot,
twig blight, twig dieback, root rot, thread blight and other fungal
diseases may occur.
Fully ripe Japanese persimmons are usually eaten out-of-hand or cut in
half and served with a spoon, preferably after chilling. Some people
prefer to add lemon juice or cream and a little sugar. The flesh may be
added to salads, blended with ice cream mix or yogurt, used in
pancakess, cakes, gingerbread, cookies, gelatin desserts, puddings,
mousse, or made into jam or marmalade. The pureed pulp can be blended
with cream cheese, orange juice, honey and a pinch of salt to make an
Ripe fruits can be frozen whole or pulped and frozen in the home
freezer. Large quantities of 'Tamopan' are preserved by drying. Drying
is commonly practiced in Brazil and the dried fruit is popular
throughout the country. Some California growers dry the 'Hachiya' by a
Chinese method. The fruits are picked when mature but firm, are peeled
and hung up by their stems for 30-50 days to dry in the sun. Kneading
every 4-5 days is necessary to give uniform texture and improve flavor.
Then they are taken down and sweated for 10 days in heaps under mats.
Sugar crystals form on the surface. Lastly, they are hung up again to
dry in the wind. In the Orient, the peelings are dried separately and
are mixed in with fruits when packed for sale. An inferior product is
made by slitting the skin with a knife, then spreading the fruits out
on mats to dry for several weeks, then sweating them in piles, and the
product is sold at a very low price.
In Indonesia, ripe fruits are stewed until soft, then pressed flat and
dried in the sun. Early travelers called such fruits "red figs".
Intestinal compaction from consumption of persimmons in Israel has been
eliminated by drying the fruits before marketing, and some dried fruits
are now being exported to Europe. Surplus persimmons may be converted
into molasses, cider, beer and wine. Roasted seeds have served as a
Food Value Per 100 g of Edible Portion*
The astringent substance in the persimmon, generally called "tannin",
has been much studied and variously defined as knowledge of tannins and
other phenols has unfolded. To put it simply, it is classed as a
condensed tannin (proanthocyanidin) of complex structure.
One would be wise to eat only fully ripe persimmons from which the
tannin has been almost entirely eliminated. The skin, which retains
some tannin, should not be eaten.
Tannin from unripe Japanese persimmons has been employed in brewing
sake, also in dyeing and as a wood preservative. Juice of small,
inedible wild persimmons, crushed whole, calyx, seeds and all, is
diluted with water and painted on paper or cloth as an insect- and
The wood of the tree is fairly hard and heavy, black with streaks of
orange-yellow, salmon, brown or gray; close-grained; takes a smooth
finish and is prized in Japan for fancy inlays, though it has an
Medicinal Uses: A decoction of the calyx and fruit stem is sometimes
taken to relieve hiccups, coughs and labored respiration.
Last updated: 11/18/114 by ch