The American Persimmon- Diospyros virginiana was once a common tree in woodlots and fencerows in the Eastern United States. It is the only North American relative of the tropical Ebony family. It is normally seen as a small to medium sized tree but can under good condition grow to be a large tree. The wood of the Persimmon tree is one of the densest and most crush resistant woods in North America. It was once the choice timber for the wooden heads of golf clubs.
The American Persimmon is a pioneer tree. The large sweet fruit is relished by all kinds of wildlife who basically eat it whole seeds and all. This is the way the fairly large seeds get spread far and wide. Deer, Turkeys, Foxes, Coyotes, Raccoons, Opossums and other common woodland creatures take advantage of the sweet fruits each fall.
Persimmon trees are dioceous meaning male and female flowers are on separate trees. Male trees have male pollen producing producing flowers. Female trees have female nectar producing flowers. Male trees do not produce fruit. Honeybees absolutely love Persimmon flowers. Both male and female trees literally roar with bees during the bloom period. The trees bloom period is only about 10 days but with enough trees a tremendous amount of nectar and pollen are gathered.
The fruit is very astringent when unripe. Many an unknowing soul has been offered an unripe persimmon as a right of initiation to country life. The ripe fruit is soft and sweet. Quite nice really. It is advisable to take a small taste test of any wild fruit to be sure it is ready before taking a big bight. There is an unfounded belief that Persimmons must be exposed to a hard frost to ripen. This is not entirely true. Some ripen early enough to be good long before cold weather. Most though ripen very late in the season so frosty weather indicates that most fruit will be ripe. There are people in Indiana and North Carolina who raise and process Persimmon pulp for those who want the traditional holiday Persimmon Pies a regional delicacy.
There are other mysteries to our American Persimmon trees. There are two genetically different populations included in this species. Trees which grow roughly along a line north of the Ohio River have 90 chromosomes while trees south of that line have 60 chromosomes. The 90 chromosomes trees tend to produces larger fruit and most named selections are from that population. The southern strain is now beginning to get a little attention and some new selections are being made in that population.
We hope to have grafted varieties available by fall 2021