COMMON NAMES: COMMON PERSIMMON, PERSIMMON, EASTERN PERSIMMON, POSSUMWOOD, DATE PLUM, JOVE’S FRUIT, WINTER PLUM
BOTANICAL NAME: Diospyros virginiana
PRONUNCIATION: (dye-OSS-pear-os ver-gin-ee-AN-ah)
FAMILY: Ebenaceae (Persimmon or Ebony Family)
HEIGHT: 40 to 70 feet
SPREAD: 30 to 40 feet
FINAL SPACING: 30 to 40 feet
TYPE: Deciduous – Sun
HABIT: Yellow fall color; dark, deeply fissured bark. Shiny foliage that gracefully droops. Small apple sized orange fruit. Fruit is tasty unless you eat before it is ripe.
NATURAL HABITAT AND PREFERRED SITE: Grows wild in east Texas and other spotted areas of the state. Persimmon is very much at home in a wide range soils from sandy to deep gumbo alkaline clays.
IDENTIFICATION INFORMATION: Common persimmon has a variety of overall looks from dense and symmetrical to open and spreading. It has beautiful orange fruit in the fall, yellow to orange fall color, spreading, often crooked or drooping branching.
FLOWERS AND FRUIT: Flowers from April to June, male and female flowers on separate trees, greenish yellow and not showy. Fruit is sweet and edible when ripe but extremely astringent when unripe. Fruit will ripen from August through February depending on location in the state. Early or late fruit is generally smaller than the fruit that ripens about the time the leaves fall from the trees. Fruits are generally ¾ of an inch to 1 ½ inches, 4 to 8 flat seeds that are leathery and about ½ inch long. Fruit is bright pink to orange when ripe. Only the female trees have the fruit.
BARK: Brown to black with deep heavy fissures.
FOLIAGE: Leaves are deciduous, simple and alternate, 3 to 6 inches long with smooth margins, shiny dark green above and paler and somewhat hairy below. Fall color shows very early in the fall. Fall color is from yellow to pink to orange, some years spectacular. Shiny summer foliage has a graceful drooping appearance.
CULTURE: Persimmon is easy to grow in any well-drained soil, minimum fertilizer, needs relatively drought tolerant. Difficult to transplant from the wild.
PROBLEMS: Webworms attack unhealthy trees in the summer, messy fruit, especially if planted near paved surfaces. Releasing trichogramma wasps and using the Basic Organic Program will prevent most of the insect pests.
PROPAGATION: Done by planting seed from mature fruit. Germination is increased by soaking 2-3 days before planting. Seed can be planted in the spring or the fall. Persimmon can also be propagated by root cuttings that are 6 to 8 inches long, approximately 1/3 of an inch in diameter. Grafting and budding can also be done. Seed will also respond well to being cold stratified for 30 to 60 days at 36 to 41 degrees, then being sowed outdoors in the early spring.
INSIGHT: Persimmon wood is known for its toughness, strength, hardness and ability to absorb shock. It has been used to make billiard cues, spools, bobbins and wooden golf club heads in the past. The fruit is very important for wildlife.