COMMON NAMES: MEXICAN PERSIMMON, BLACK PERSIMMON, CHAPOTE
BOTANICAL NAME: Diospyros texana (dye-OSS-pear-os TEX-ann-ah)
FAMILY: Ebonaceae (Persimmon or Ebony Family)
TYPE: Small deciduous fruit tree, evergreen in the most southern parts of the state but deciduous from San Antonio north.
HEIGHT: 20 to 40 feet
SPREAD: 15 to 20 feet
FINAL SPACING: 15 to 20 feet
NATURAL HABITAT AND PREFERRED SITE: Primarily south Texas to central Texas, growing in a wide range of soils. Is quite drought tolerant and need excellent drainage.
IDENTIFICATION INFORMATION: It is an ornamental tree that is intricately branched and has smooth beautiful bark with small leathery leaves and small edible fruit in the fall.
FLOWERS AND FRUIT: Flowers are approximately 1 inch long, greenish-white and somewhat bell-shaped. Female and male flowers appear on different plants, dioecious. Fruit is a round ¾ to 1 inch persimmon, black when ripe and has sweet edible pulp. Fruits are crowded with seed and some people wonder if it is worth eating.
BARK: Bark is brown to gray and smooth but the outer bark peels off revealing a lighter colored inner bark. Trunks and branches somewhat resemble crape myrtle or madrone with the beautiful exfoliating outer surface.
FOLIAGE: Leaves are small, 1 to 2 inches, leathery, often fuzzy beneath and the edges are often slightly rolled under. Very little fall color.
CULTURE: Texas persimmon is a slow growing plant but easy to grow. Requires a minimum amount of fertilizer and is quite drought tolerant. Can even grow in rocky soil areas.
PROBLEMS: The only problems I have seen with Texas persimmon are availability in the nursery trade and freeze damage in the northern portions of the state. Pest problems are few.
PROPAGATION: Grown from seed easily by planting immediately after maturity in the fall. Cold stratification through the winter and planting in the spring. Can also be easily transplanted from the wild.
INSIGHT: Texas persimmon fruit has been used in Mexico to dye animal hides, wood is used to make tool handles and lathe products, also salt shakers due to its moisture absorbing ability. It has been said that the fruit can cause constipation in livestock.