Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Tuesday's Trees- Persimmons

Persimmons, Diospyros virginiana, with that tart, puckery fruit is a native tree.  We used to have some in our backyard in Virginia. During this hurricane season I am reminded of these trees.  As we watched the winds and rain, we were worried about trees coming down.  I made a comment something along the lines that 'if we were going to lose any trees, I hope it is those' pointing to the Persimmons...as they fell.   Ha! They were pretty close to the edge of the yard, hanging over the bulkhead, and then they were in the creek.

Fast forward to our new place in South Carolina.  Up by the street I found a young tree with these interesting flowers in the spring.   These waxy little bell shaped blooms are about a half of an inch, creamy white, and hang in either clusters of three (males) or singles (female).   This is a dioecious (two households) tree, each tree being either male flowering or female flowering.  One very rare occasions there are perfect flowers, meaning  both stamens (male) and pistils (female) are present.


From the looks of it, I have a male tree in my yard.  


Though I was confused by this picture below, singular blossoms.  Look closely at the left-hand side of the photo, see the double stem ends?  This is evidence that there WERE two or more blooms, but they fell off.  


You can see better from this angle, some of the blooms have fallen off.  


The leaves are glossy and arranged alternately along the branches.  The edges are smooth.   The native range covers almost the entire United States, minus the states along the Canadian border.  It can grow in full sun to part shade and prefers moist soil.  A mature tree will be 30 -50 feet tall and have a rounded oval crown spreading 20- 35 feet in width.  
According to Wikipedia, the name Diospyros roughly translated means divine fruit.  The common name persimmon is from the Algonquin language, meaning 'a dry fruit' -- written in English could be spelled putchamin or pessamin or pasiminan.   
It is a member of the ebony family.  The hard wood has been used in golf clubs.  I found it interesting that it has also been used in musical instruments.  The hard wood has been used as drumsticks.  Hard wood is often used as shuttles, billiard cues and hand carved  wooden bowls.  

The bark is one of the distinguishing features, dark and blocked bark.  It is very similar to the bark of a mature dogwood.  

The fruit appears in late summer.  Besides the dark bark, seeing the fruit hanging on these trees makes it an easy identification.  The fruit turns a yellow-orange when ripe.  

 The tree has some pests.   There is a bark and phloem borer that can infest young nursery trees.   There are insects that defoliate, webworms and a hickory horned devil.  There is a persimmon wilt, Cephalosporium diospyri that can kill a tree.  This fungal disease will cause the leaves to wilt, defoliate, and the branches die from the top down.  Diseased trees should be removed and burned.


 The fruit is enjoyed by  many birds and mammals, to include deer, fox, skunks, turkey, and opposum.  The flowers are attractive to bees in the production of honey.  This is additionally a butterfly larval plant for the Luna moth.

Updated photo of the fruit.  Not the best photo, fruit is up high, but you can see the tops of the fruit, a large leafy crown.




ripe fruit -- not large
fall color 



©Copyright 2012 Janet. All rights reserved. Content created by Janet for The Queen of Seaford. words and photos by Janet,The Queen of Seaford.

29 comments:

  1. Janet,
    No need to worry about problems with these trees we have lots of bird planted persimmons. Enjoyed the flower photos, they tend to go over looked. This year I noticed or shall I say heard my honey bees on the flowers.

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    1. Randy, I know the persimmons is one that can invade a farmer's field. I think its flowers are really striking, it was the first thing that drew my interest.

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  2. I 'have also been intrigued by persimmons and are saving a post about them for the winter. Interesting thing is the harvest lasts only 2 weeks. Their is breeding work to improve the narrow harvest. Sure look pretty.

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    1. Patrick, good to see you again. I look forward to your persimmons post. I know the ones we had in Virginia dropped their fruit in a small window of time.

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  3. I've always been intrigued by this tree. Interesting thing is their harvest only lasts only 2 weeks. But there is breeding being done to expand the harvest. Nice at harvest and now I know in flower. Thanks.

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  4. I have persimmon in my garden and love them! I didn't know they are host to the luna moth. I am so excited about that...I love lunas and now I will expect to see more in my garden.

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    1. Karin, I love finding new things out with native plants. Love the luna moth!

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  5. I never ate a persimmon, but they look to be a pretty tree. I found it interesting what the bark is used for in manufacturing of product. It is a very versatile and useful plant.

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    1. Donna, they are sweet when ripe, otherwise they are super tart. It is a versatile plant.

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  6. I've never actually eaten a persimmon either, they look like apples to my eye but maybe they're smaller? How nice to have one of these volunteer in your yard.

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    1. Marguerite, they are smaller than an apple...and kind of flat on top. I was happy to know what it was growing in my yard.

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  7. It's a neat tree and I learned a lot from this post. I don't have one around my property but prior neighbors had one and did not like it much because the deer ate all the persimmons. I bet it would make a great jelly!

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    1. Tina, thanks!! It is supposed to make great jelly. It is a great food source for many critters in the wild.

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  8. This is a tree I knew nothing about. It is interesting that it can be both male and female. Like a few other commenters, I have never eaten a persimmon. I have seen them in the grocery store, but not being familiar with them I have never bought any to try. The fruit looks delicate and perhaps they are therefore hard to ship? Could this be the reason you don't often see them in the stores? One of these days I must get around to trying them. Forgive the silly question, but how do you eat them. Like an apple?

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    1. Jennifer, the persimmons in the grocery store are not the native variety. The native ones are too perishable. There are various varieties of persimmons around the world. They are eaten similar to an apple...though the native Americans ate them as dried fruit, like an apricot.

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  9. That was so interesting. I've thought about growing a persimmon tree. They grow here in Oklahoma too, but I just haven't made the commitment. I'm not sure I like the fruit for one thing. However, I do like persimmon jam. Hope all is well in your world fair Queen.~~Dee

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    1. Dee, Yes, they grow in much of the US. If you like persimmon jam, you are halfway there! If you chose to grow one...for fruit, you will need to make sure there is another of the opposite sex close by.
      Yes, all is well in my world, thanks Dee.

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  10. So interesting! I knew nothing about persimmon trees before; I had no idea their wood was actually used for so many things. My husband's aunt used to make persimmon pudding every summer for family gatherings--I don't remember if they had a tree or if she got the fruit from someone else, but it sure was delicious!

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  11. I have a tiny little persimmon I bought on a trip to Plants Delight nursery a few years ago--but I haven't had any flowers or fruit yet. Still, looking at your photos, I think we may have some natives in the forest. I'm definitely going to take a closer look! Fantastic information as always, Janet! Thanks for sharing!

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    1. Julie, I wonder if they flowered and you didn't notice?? The time frame is very short for the flowers to stay on the tree...at least for the male trees.

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  12. I'm especiaqlly enjoying your tree features, having been through all of the gardening phases: annuals, perennials, shrubs...and now trees.

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    1. Ricki, trees are so majestic, I have enjoyed learning about each one as I write the post.

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  13. Interesting post, trees have a lot of fruits which after the harvest will give much joy. I am greeting

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    1. Zielona, thanks so much. You may have persimmons in your area of the world as well, there are varieties worldwide.

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  14. So that's what the fruit of the persimmon tree looks like! I like the smooth glossy leaves too. But, I have to say, those poor trees, to be willed into the creek like that ;-)

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    1. Janet, Wish I had a better picture of the fruit...the tree was pretty far off the road. Maybe I will take my longer lens and see if I can get a better photo of the fruit.
      I did will those trees into the creek.. ;-) hahaa pretty powerful eh?

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  15. I like the look of the flower, fruit and bark of this tree...I tried the fruit once but really like the idea that this tree feeds o many critters including the luna moth...

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    1. Donna@GEV, I tried the fruit off the trees in Virginia and it was before they were ripe...ugh!! Some really like the fruit. I like that the wildlife benefits from these trees.

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