American Persimmon, Diospyros virginiana A.K.a Common Persimmon, "'Simmon", "Possumwood", or "Sugar-p
Diospyros virginiana is a persimmon species commonly called the American Persimmon, Common Persimmon, Eastern Persimmon, "'Simmon", "Possumwood", or "Sugar-plum".
It is a small tree usually thirty to eighty feet (ten to twenty-four meters) in height, with a short, slender trunk and spreading, often pendulous branches, which form sometimes a broad and sometimes a narrow round-topped head. The roots are thick, fleshy and stoloniferous. It is also given to shrubby growth. The tree has oval entire leaves, and unisexual flowers on short stalks. In the male flowers, which are numerous, the stamens are sixteen in number and arranged in pairs; the female flowers are solitary, with traces of stamens, and a smooth ovary with one ovule in each of the eight cells—the ovary is surmounted by four styles, which are hairy at the base. The fruit-stalk is very short, bearing a subglobose fruit an inch or rather more in diameter, of an orange-yellow color, ranging to bluish, and with a sweetish astringent pulp. It is surrounded at the base by the persistent calyx-lobes, which increase in size as the fruit ripens. The astringency renders the fruit somewhat unpalatable, but after it has been subjected to the action of frost, or has become partially rotted or " bletted " like a medlar , its flavor is improved. Bark: 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. Wood: Very dark; sapwood yellowish white; heavy, hard, strong and very close grained. Specific gravity, 0.7908; weight of cubic foot, 49.28 lb (22.35 kg). Winter buds: Ovate, acute, one-eighth of an inch long, covered with thick reddish or purple scales. These scales are sometimes persistent at the base of the branchlets. Leaves: Alternate, simple, four to six inches (152 mm) long, oval, narrowed or rounded or cordate at base, entire, acute or acuminate. They come out of the bud revolute, thin, pale, reddish green, downy with ciliate margins, when full grown are thick, dark green, shining above, pale and often pubescent beneath. In autumn they sometimes turn orange or scarlet, sometimes fall without change of color. Midrib broad and flat, primary veins opposite and conspicuous. Petioles stout, pubescent, one-half to an inch in length. Flowers: May, June, when leaves are half-grown; diœcious or rarely polygamous. Staminate flowers borne in two to three-flowered cymes; the pedicels downy and bearing two minute bracts. Pistillate flowers solitary, usually on separate trees, their pedicels short, recurved, and bearing two bractlets. Calyx: Usually four-lobed, accrescent under the fruit. Corolla: Greenish yellow or creamy white, tubular, four-lobed; lobes imbricate in bud. Stamens: Sixteen, inserted on the corolla, in staminate flowers in two rows. Filaments short, slender, slightly hairy; anthers oblong, introrse, two-celled, cells opening longitudinally. In pistillate flowers the stamens are eight with aborted anthers, rarely these stamens are perfect. Pistil: Ovary superior, conical, ultimately eight-celled; styles four, slender, spreading; stigma two-lobed. Fruit: A juicy berry containing one to eight seeds, crowned with the remnants of the style and seated in the enlarged calyx; depressed-globular, pale orange color, often red-cheeked; with slight bloom, turning yellowish brown after freezing. Flesh astringent while green, sweet and luscious when ripe.
Cream - Pink Flowers / Green Leaves that turn beautiful shades of yellow, orange, and red in fall / Orange Fruit. The scientific name for the Persimmon Tree means 'fruit of the gods' in Greek. The 4 inch fruit can eaten fresh, cooked, or dried. It is used in desert dishes such as pies, cookies, cakes, puddings, salads, and curries. The Persimmon is a delicious sweet juicy fruit!
How to Grow
Soil requirements: Persimmons are adapted to a wide variety of soil types. They are tolerant of wet soils and also do well on light sandy soils. Once established, they can withstand considerable drought.
Cultural requirements: Persimmons are one of the easiest fruit trees to grow. They have almost no pest or disease problems. The tree can be kept small with judicious pruning. After the form of the tree is established, usually a modified central leader, pruning should be confined to light thinning and heading back excessively vigorous growth. Persimmons flower and bear fruit on the current seasons growth.
Stratification and Seed Storage
persimmon seeds require a two- to three-month period of chilling at between 35 and 50 degrees Fahrenheit before planting. This process, called stratification, softens the seed coat and allows germination to occur. The seeds need to be kept moist during the stratification process. A good way to keep persimmon seeds moist is to place them between layers of damp peat moss in a sealable plastic bag. Just remember to put a few holes in the bag to allow air circulation. You can also mix the seeds with damp sand for stratification.
Planting Persimmon Seeds
To get persimmon seeds started, you need a soilless planting mix and some 8-inch pots. A good way to determine how deep to plant a seed is to bury it the same depth in the soil as the diameter of the seed. It's important to keep the soil around the seeds damp during germination and the initial growth stage. A temperature of around 70 to 75 F works well for starting seeds.
Shoots and Leaves
You can expect a shoot to emerge one to six weeks after planting the seeds. It's important to keep the soil damp during seedling and sapling development. Keep the Asian persimmon seeds in a warm, sunny spot for the first growing season. The spring following germination, you can plant the new sapling out into the garden. A spot in full sun with well-draining, slightly acidic sandy or loamy soil is best.
How to Use
In the landscape: The tree is a beautiful ornamental. The large glossy leaves turn bright red each autumn. After the leaves fall, the orange fruit hangs like many lanterns on the tree.
In the kitchen: Persimmons are nutritious; being high in both vitamins A and C. Their bright orange color and delicious, very sweet flavor compliment many other foods.