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American Persimmon
by Ann McCulloh - posted 12/20/13


Diospyros virginiana in October holds its leaves and unripened fruit.

Tree ripened fruit of Diospyros virginiana ‘Meader’ takes on a purplish tinge and becomes quite soft and succulent.

American persimmon (Diospyros virginiana) is a native fruit tree that grows in clearings and open woods from Connecticut to Florida with naturally occurring populations in the southern half of Ohio. A slow-growing, ornamental tree with attractive foliage, fall color and bark, it is adaptable to a range of soils and has few pest or disease problems. It is also described as being tolerant of air pollution. In wild populations it usually bears male or female flowers on separate trees. Many self-fertile cultivars have been developed for the gardener who wants fruit, but has limited space, including ‘Meader’, ‘Ruby’, ‘Yates’ and hybrids ‘Nikita’s Gift’ and ‘Rosseyanka’.

The apricot-sized fruit ripens in fall. It is astringent when green, but becomes sweet when fully ripe. The most widespread and popular persimmon recipes are for puddings, but they are also featured in breads, cookies, pies, cakes, ice cream, candies, sauces, smoothies and fruit leather. Ripe fruits are too soft to ship or keep in stores, so growing your own may be your best opportunity to taste this traditional American fruit.

Common Name: American persimmon

Botanical Name: Diospyros virginiana 

Cultivars: ‘Meader’, ‘Prok’, ‘Yates’, ‘Szukis’, ‘Morris Burton’, ‘Wabash’, ‘Nikita’s Gift’ (hybrid)

Color: White, pale yellow, warm and cool pinks

Blooming Period: Late spring

Type: Native tree

Size: Up to 30 feet tall by 20 feet wide

Exposure: Full sun to part shade

When to Plant: Spring or fall

Soil: Tolerates poor, clay or rocky soils; best in slightly moist, sandy soils.

USDA Hardiness Zone: 4 to 9

Watering: Once a week during establishment period

When to Prune: Cut back in early spring; remove suckers in summer.

When to Fertilize: Topdress with 1 inch of mature compost in spring.

In Your Landscape: An ornamental, fruiting specimen tree

From Ohio Gardener Volume III Issue VI. Photos by Ann McCulloh.

 


Ann McCulloh is the curator of plant collections at Cleveland Botanical Garden.