An unapologetic plant geek shares advice and opinions on gardening, the contrived and the natural landscape, as well as occasional topics from the other side of the gate.

November 6, 2009

'Simmon Trees

Racoon up in de 'simmon tree
Possum on de ground

Possum says to racoon
Please shake some 'simmons down

The American Persimmon (Diospyros virginiana) is one of our underappreciated native trees. They range up and down the Eastern Seaboard and into the Mid-West. These trees are tough, growing in the poorest of soils where they withstand the occasional drought, as well as the occasional dose of salt in coastal areas. Though they have fairly good fall color, this time of year it is the fruits that are of interest, which fall off the tree when ripe, creating a feast for wildlife. They are also quite edible to humans, provided you don't eat them prematurely. The astringent tannins in an unripe Persimmon will turn your mouth inside-out for a small eternity. Without the foliage or fruits on the tree, it is easily identified by its distinctive bark.

American Persimmon (Diospyros virginiana) 1

American Persimmon (Diospyros virginiana) 2

Although I promote native trees whenever possible, when it comes to Persimmons I prefer to eat the Asian varieties (Diospyros kaki). There are many cultivars, but they can be put into two basic groups: astringent or non-astringent. The astringent varieties can only be eaten after they are fully ripe, otherwise they will do that same nasty trick in your mouth as an unripened native. The ripe fruit from the astringent group is achingly sweet and has a gooey, almost gelatin-like texture. I prefer the non-astringent varieties, which can be eaten while the flesh is still firm and crisp like an apple. They are also not so cloyingly sweet. Even if the fruit is not eaten, these trees are worth growing just for their color - both from the fall foliage and from the fruit, which hangs on the tree like so many orange ornaments.

Asian Persimmon (Diospyros kaki) 10

Asian Persimmon (Diospyros kaki) 44

Asian Persimmon (Diospyros kaki) 66

Asian Persimmon (Diospyros kaki) 2.1

Asian Persimmon (Diospyros kaki) 3


  1. Thanks for the photos and descriptions. I have a young Fuyu Persimmon (non-astringent), and look forward one day to some fruits. I'm in Vancouver BC, so our weather is a bit on the cool side for persimmons, but I've heard it's possible.

  2. There's a lot of wild Persimmons growing wild on our farm. They are attractive in the summer; the layers of leaves have a bit of a petticoat effect.

  3. Good morning, we used to have a multi-stemmed persimmon in the backyard. I was happy when it went into the creek during the hurricane. When the fruit drops it is such a was right next to the deck. I do love the bark and think in the right place it is a great tree.

  4. One of my favorite trees. Nothing like persimmons against a blue sky. But I haven't seen any up in NJ. What growing conditions do they prefer? OK in zone 6? I'm thinking of some of the Japanese cultivars. (OK - trying to get free advice from a nursery manager.)

  5. Great photos. Miss 'simmons from living in the Mid Atlantic and Carolinas. Now live in arid (but irrigated)Inland North West. Enjoy your posts.

  6. Garden Lily,
    From what little I know about BC, you should be able to grow them if you are near the coast at lower elevations. I have always wanted to see your part of the world, maybe one day.

    Sweet Bay,
    They sort of blend into the background most of the year. I usually only notice them at fruiting time.

    When I lived at Folly Beach SC, I had one off of the second floor deck. When the fruit was ripe it was not unusual to see at eye level, half a dozen racoons in the tree. It used to drive my old dog crazy.

    The native is listed as growing in Jersey and is hardy to at least zone 6, maybe lower. Most Asians are zone 7, but there are a few cold hardy varieties. I know the astringent variety 'Saijo' is zone 6, but there are others. They will grow in most garden soils, but avoid wet, poorly drained or heavy clay areas. Good luck!

    Thank you for stopping by. I am glad you have irrigation, I have heard how dry, but beautiful, it is there.


  7. Lovely photos Les. Can you believe I've never even tasted a Persimmon? ;)

  8. Les, this is perfect timing to read this. I'm going to use it as reference for a post I'm doing on weather predicting with the persimmon pit. Very good article. I'll let you know when it's up.

  9. I'm on a mission~~~ Will you please cut one open and take a picture of the seed for me?

  10. Racquel,
    They should be in the grocery soon. Do your self a favor and have a taste.

    I look forward to your post and you are welcome to link. I will try to get to my persimmon spot soon and send you a picture.