Common persimmon (Diospyros virginiana), is native to Maryland and is an interesting, fruit-producing tree. It is mostly a warmer temperature loving tree, with Maryland approaching the northern limit of its range which extends to southern Florida in the South and to the Eastern parts of Texas and Oklahoma to the West.
The approximately two inch diameter yellow orange fruit is interesting because it is sweet and tasty only after a hard frost in the fall. Before that, the fruit is very astringent. The term “pucker power” could have originated when someone bit into the flesh of an unripe persimmon. Perhaps the fruit is not useful for human consumption in the warmer regions where frost does not occur.
The ripened fruit can be widely used in baking and cooking applications, and is used by a range of animals. Birds and animals widely disperse the seeds. Also of interest is that older trees are the best fruit producers, with a typical fruit production of every other year. It usually takes up to ten years of growth for a tree to produce. Most fruit production occurs in trees that are four to five times that old.
The persimmon is very hardy and can survive in a wide variety of conditions. These can include old fields with very poor soil and sunlight conditions. It can thrive in the open and also survive for years as an understory tree.
The wood is hard, strong, and very close-grained, due to its slow growth. It can be useful for many wood projects, where its characteristics make it ideal, like golf club heads. Persimmon flowers are useful in the production of honey.
Article by Claude Eans, FCFCDB member
Nature note for 8/21/21