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 Diospyros subsp. var.  Persimmon
Persimmon tree
Habit: tree
Height: to
Width: to
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Lifespan: perennial
Exposure: sun
Features: deciduous, edible, fruit
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Ebenaceae > Diospyros var. ,

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A Persimmon is any of a number of species of trees of the genus Diospyros, and the edible fruit borne by them.wp The most widely grown is the Kaki Persimmon (Diospyros kaki), followed by the American Persimmon (Diospyros virginiana). There are less common species as well, like the Caucasian Persimmon/Date-Plum (Diospyros lotus).

Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture

Persimmon. Interesting and valuable edible fruits. Of edible persimmons, two distinct types are grown in this country,—Diospyros virginiana, the native species, and D. Kaki, the Chinese-Japanese species, known as the kaki. The latter is much the more improved, and is the source of the commercial persimmons. See Diospyros. Other species have been introduced, but are yet under experiment (cf. "Yearbook, United States Department of Agriculture," 1911, page 416).

The American persimmon.

The American persimmon (Diospyros virginiana) is found wild in most of the southern states and as far north as 38° latitude. It will thrive and ripen its fruit, however, as far north as Rhode Island and the Great Lakes. The fruit is little known except to those who live in localities in which it grows wild, and even there

but little attention has been given to its cultivation and improvement. The tree is usually of small size when grown in the open ground, reaching a height of 20 to 30 feet; when grown in the forest, it often reaches a height of 60 to 80 feet; and in the rich alluvial river bottoms, from 2 to 3 feet in diameter. In exceptional cases, it may attain still greater size, even to 7 feet in circumference and 125 to 130 feet high ("Journal Heredity," November, 1915). The wood is hard and elastic, and very durable when used for inside work but it will rot quickly when placed under ground.

The fruit is subglobose and ranges in size from 1/2 to 2 inches in diameter, depending largely on the number of seeds which it contains, although seedless varieties an inch in diameter are sometimes found. The fruit has a very disagreeable astringent quality when green, but this disappears in most varieties when it becomes fully ripe. The date of ripening in the central states varies from August 1 to December 1. The old notion that this fruit must be subjected to the action of frost before it becomes edible is erroneous; many of the very best varieties ripen long before the appearance of frost, while others never become edible, being so exceedingly astringent that neither sun nor frost has any appreciable effect on them.

The persimmon is readily propagated from seeds, which should be procured in autumn or early winter and planted in the same way as peach pits; but as the seedlings, especially from cultivated varieties, cannot be relied upon to reproduce themselves, they should be budded or grafted when two or three years old. This should be done in the spring as soon as the bark will slip freely. Ordinary shield-budding works well; also annular- or ring-budding, patch-budding, and chip-budding. Large trees may be cleft-grafted, and small shoots or stocks may be whip-grafted.

This tree is more difficult to transplant successfully than almost any other kind of fruit. If too much of the long tap-root is cut off, the tree will be sure to die. Transplant in the autumn, cut back most of the top, but preserve as much of the root as possible, and plant in a deep well-prepared soil. The persimmon will do fairly well on almost any land not too wet, but it will give good results if planted on a rich warm soil, well exposed to the sunlight, and kept well tilled for the first few years after planting, until it becomes adapted to its new surroundings. The orderly growing of persimmon trees in nurseries will remove much of the difficulty in establishing the plantation. The tree and fruit are little attacked by insects and fungous diseases.

The trees should be planted in the orchard 2 or 3 inches deeper than they stood in the nursery. The trees may be kept low-headed so that the fruit can be picked by hand; in this case, they may stand 16 to 20 feet apart each way. If the fruit is not to be hand- picked but gathered as it falls and size and quality are not so important, the trees may stand at about one-half these distances. As the roots run deep, the plantation is adapted to other crops until the tree require the space.

Several chance seedlings of superior size or quality have received names. They are small fruits, yellow or reddish in color, about 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 inches in diameter. Some of the forms are shown in Figs. 2874 and 2875.

For a general horticultural account of the native persimmon, see W. F. Fletcher, Farmers' Bulletin No. 685, United States Department of Agriculture (1915), from which most of the following descriptions of varieties are taken.

Boone (Daniel Boone).—Origin Indiana, where it ripens during October and November; form roundish oblate, size medium, color yellow, with a dull blush in the sun: skin rather tough; seeds numerous; flavor sweet but not rich; quality good.

Burrier.—Origin central Kentucky, where it ripens rather early; form oblate, size medium, color yellow; practically seedless flesh soft; quality very good.

Delmas.—Origin Scranton, Mississippi, where it ripens during October and early November; form roundish oblate, size medium to large, color reddish yellow; skin thin and tough; seeds numerous; flavor sweet and rich; quality very good.

Early Bearing.—Introduced from Cartersburg, Indiana, where it ripens early in October; form round-ovate, size medium, color dull yellow; quality good.

Early Golden.—Origin Illinois, where it ripens in September; form oblong, size medium to large, color yellow; skin thin; seeds few, flavor sweet; quality very good.

Golden Gem (Fig. 2875).—Introduced from Borden, Indiana, where it ripens from August to October; form roundish oblong, size medium to large, color dark orange to red; seeds few, flavor rich and sweet; quality good.

Hicks.—Origin Washington County, Indiana, where it ripens in October; form roundish oblate, size medium to large, color dark red; skin thin and tender; seeds few, flavor rich; quality very good.

Josephine (American Honey, Honey) (Fig. 2875).—Origin near Bluffton, Missouri, where it ripens in September; form roundish oblate, size medium, color bright yellow, changing to pale translucent; skin tough; seeds few, flavor sweet and ricn; quality good.

Kansas.—Introduced from Missouri, where it ripens in September; form roundish oblate, size rather large, color yellow splashed with red; flavor rich; quality very good.

Marion (Fig. 2875).—Original tree found near Fulton, Missouri, where the fruit ripens in October; form roundish oblate, size large, color dull red; skin rather tough; seeds few; quality good though less rich than some other kinds.

Miller (Fig. 2875).—Origin Jackson County, Missouri, where it ripens in September; form roundish oblate, size large, color reddish yellow, translucent; skin tough; seeds rather numerous; flavor sweet; quality good.

Ruby (Little's Ruby) (Fig^. 2875).—Introduced from Cartersburg, Indiana, where it ripens during September and for some time later; roundish oblate, small to medium, yellowish red, shading to deep red; skin tender; seeds few, flavor sweet; quality very good.

Shoto.—Introduced from Danville, Indiana, where it ripens during October; form oblong-ovate, size large, color dull yellow, blushed in the sun; skin rather tough; seeds few; quality very good.

Smeech.—Introduced from Pennsylvania, where it ripens during October and November; form roundish oblate, size medium, color dull yellow, splashed with red; flavor rich and sweet; very good.

The kaki.

The Japanese persimmon (Diospyros Kaki) is considered by the Japanese as their best native pomological product. Although cultivated in the south of France for more than ninety years, there is no record of its successful introduction into the United States previous to about 1870. Trees were first sent to California and subsequently to Augusta, Georgia, but owing to defective roots and long delay in transit, the first and second shipments proved a failure, and not until 1876 came the first success with a few trees. All early importations of trees grown in Japan consisted of trees of small sizes with long tap-roots and no laterals; and probably the stocks on which they were grafted were not adaptable to this country. American enterprise, however, remedied this, as nurseries were established near Yokohama and well-grown trees of the best varieties were exported to the United States. Experiments were made in the South by grafting upon native stocks. This proved successful when the graft was inserted upon the collar of the root, 3 to 4 inches below the surface of the soil. The United States Department of Agriculture received a large quantity of trees from Japan about 1878 or 1879, and fearing that the winter of Washington might prove too cold the trees were sent to Norfolk, Virginia, where many bore fruit the following year. The first fruiting of which there is any record was at Augusta, Georgia, in 1879, upon trees grafted upon native seedlings growing in the forest.

The kaki, or Japanese persimmon, is a fruit for the cotton-belt. However, as regards the hardiness of the Japanese persimmons, experience demonstrates that some varieties are more resistant to excessive cold than others; but few can withstand a temperature of zero; and as a rule they are more successful below the 32d degree of latitude than farther north. Many seedlings have been produced that seem to have increased frost- resisting powers. Instances are reported in which some of these trees have withstood the winters of east Tennessee. By successive sowing of seeds from these hardier seedlings we may look for a race of trees that will be adapted to the middle sections of the United States. There is a probability, also, that importations from the north of Japan and China may considerably extend the range northward in this country. Some varieties have succeeded in central Virginia and Kentucky. Attempts to cross with the native species have so far been unsuccessful.

The best method of propagating Japan persimmons is by collar-grafting upon seedlings of the native species (Diospyros virginiana), which are grown either by planting the seed in nursery rows or transplanting the young seedlings from seed-beds early in the spring. The seedlings can be budded in summer, and in favorable seasons a fair proportion of the buds will succeed. Thus propagated, the trees seem to be longer-lived than those imported from Japan. Inasmuch as the native stock is used, the range of adaptation as to soils and similar conditions is very great. As a stock, Diospyros Lotus is adapted to the drier parts of the West, where D. virgini- ana does not succeed. D. chinensis will probably be a good stock, but has not yet been tested in this country.

One of the great drawbacks in the cultivation of the Japanese persimmon has been the dropping of the flowers, so that trees and plantations may remain barren. Recently this has been shown to be due to lack of pollination (see Hume, "Proceedings of the Society for Horticultural Science," 1913). A constantly staminate variety is now on the market, the Gailey, which, if planted one tree to seven or eight trees of sterile varieties, will insure a crop so far as pollination is concerned. The Tane-Nashi, however, is self-fertile. It is to be expected that the subject of sterile and fertile varieties, and of inter-pollination, will now receive much attention, with considerable change in the practice of persimmon-growing.

Another difficulty is the great variation in fruits in the same variety or even on the same tree, in shape, size, and other characters. While the cause of all this variation has not been determined, it is known that much of it is eliminated by the good inter-pollination of which we have spoken. Hume writes: "All varieties of Japanese persimmons so far studied are light-fleshed when seedless but certain varieties always snow a dark area in the flesh when seeds are present and others are always light-fleshed even when seeds are present. Both dark- and light-fleshed fruits may occur on the same tree. The physiological causes which underlie the changes in color of the flesh are not understood, and offer an interesting field for investigation."

In color, size, and surface texture, the Japanese persimmons somewhat resemble ripe tomatoes. They are now frequently seen in the northern markets. Some of the varieties ship well. Many persons do not like them at first, largely because of the very soft flesh and their sweetness, but the quality is good, it varies 'much in the different varieties, and the fruit is certain to find increased demand. It is eaten out of hand.

Some of the varieties ripen in August, some in November, and others intermediate between these dates. It requires some experience to determine just when the fruit has reached the proper stage to be marketed, and this varies with the different varieties. Some of the varieties have dark flesh, others light flesh, still others a mixture of the two. The light and dark flesh differ radically in texture and consistency, as well as appearance, and when found in the same fruit are never blended, but always distinct. The dark flesh is never astringent; the light flesh is astringent until it softens. The dark-fleshed fruit is crisp and meaty, like an apple, and is edible before it matures. Some of the entirely dark-fleshed kinds improve as they soften. The light-fleshed kinds and those with mixed light and dark flesh are very delicious when they reach the custard-like consistency of full ripeness. In some, the astringency disappears as the fruit begins to soften; in others, it persists until the fruit is fully ripe. The round-shaped varieties usually ripen first, the oblong are likely to last and keep the longest; these latter should be slowly house-ripened to remove the slight astringency inherent to these varieties.

The market value of the fruit is at present more or less uncertain. A large proportion of the fruit-eating people of the North do not yet know what a fine fruit the Japanese persimmon is. The fruits have to be shipped while hard and allowed to ripen after reaching destination. Commission men are likely to sell them and the public to eat them—or attempt to dp so—a week or two ahead of the proper stage of ripeness; hence the Japan persimmon in its best condition is yet comparatively little known. In Japan, the dried fruit, somewhat like a dried or cured fig, is much esteemed.

There is a great difference also in the habit of growth and foliage of the varieties. All have broad and shiny simple leaves. Some varieties make a growth of 5 to 7 feet the first year from graft, and at ten years form a tree 10 feet in height. Others assume a dwarf compact habit and seldom grow above 5 to 6 feet in height; this class is more precocious in reaching the bearing age than the taller-growing sorts, and is also likely to overbear. It is not uncommon for a three-year-old tree to yield several hundred perfect fruits. Thinning the fruit as soon as set in early summer will prevent an early failure of the tree.

Trees thrive in any soil in which the native species grows, but usually fail in wet soils. They respond well to good care and treatment, and yet they thrive with less attention than is required by most other fruits. The insects and diseases are few. In the orchard, they are set about 15 to 20 feet apart, except for very dwarf kinds. The general culture is the same as for other fruits.

Some of the varieties of kaki, now known in thia country, are as follows:

Bennett.—Of medium size, measuring 2 1/2 by 2 1/2 inches in cross- section; fruit almost quadrangular-conical, the sides often deeply creased, basin shallow, fairly regular; calyx depressed; apex rounded to a rather blunt point, marked by a brown tip: color deep orange- red. Seedless, owing to lack of pollination. A remarkable fruit, noteworthy for its hardiness the original tree is a seedling some twenty years old standing in the yard of Dr. C. D. Bennett, Newark, New Jersey.

Boufarik (Fig. 2876).—Size medium, 1 7/3by 2 1/6 inches; shape round-ovate to ovate, apex rounded, slightly depressed, the remains of the pistil set in the depression, base rounded, with obtuse shallow rounded cavity; color yelloSwish green, the skin greasy, slightly sticky, covered with rather rusty colored hairs which are most abundant about the apex; calyx broken up and reflexed; stem short, rather stout; cells eight, pith open, seedless; flesh light-colored, very aa- tringcnt before ripening and with strong odor of jimaon weed.

Costata.—Medium size, conical, pointed, somewhat four-sided; diameter 2 1/3 inches longitudinally and 2 1/3 inches transversely; akin salmon-yellow; flesh light yellow, dork flesh and seeds occurrng seldom, astringent until ripe, then very fine; a good keeper. Tree distinct; a rapid, upright grower; foliage luxuriant; the most ornamental of all the varieties mentioned.

Fuyugaki (Fig. 2876).—Size medium large, measuring 2 by 2 1/2 inches to 1 7/3 by 2 5/3 inches; color deep orange-red; oblate in form, very smooth, sometimes quartered with four slight creases from the top, apex rounded, very slightly depressed with remains of style persisting, basin very regular,shallow,calyx reflecxed in the ripefruits;skin thin,tough,smooth,flesh firm, meaty when ripe, light-colored, of a deep carrot-orange; close examination shows the presence of minute widely scattered dark specks; taste sweet, of fine flavor and quality; seeds present, slightly curved along the inner face, the back rounded, brown-shiny, 1/4inch long by 1/2 inch broad by A inch thick. An excellent fruit and a decided acquisition.

Gailey (Fig. 2876).—Recommended as a pollinizer, not for its fruit, although the latter is good though small; fruit oblong-conical with a rounded apex and a small sharp point, dull red with pebbled surface; flesh meaty, firm, and juicy.

Hachiya.—Very large, oblong, conical, with short point; very showy; diameter 3 1/4 inches longitudinally and 3 1/4 inches transversely; skin dark, bright red, with occasional dark spots or blotches and rings at the apex; flesh deep yellow, sometimes having occasional dark streaks, with seed, astringent until ripe, then very fine. The largest and handsomest of all. Tree vigorous and shapely; bears fairly well, but is not so prolific as some of the other varieties.

Hyakume - (Fig. 2876).—Large to very large, varying from roundish oblong to roundish oblate, but always somewhat flattened at both ends; generally slightly depressed at the point opposite the stem; diameter 2% inches longitudinally and 3 1/3 inches transversely; skin light buffish yellow, nearly always marked with ringa and veins at tne apex: flesh dark brown, sweet, crisp, and meaty, not astringent; good while still hard; a good keeper; ne of the beat market sorts. Of good growth and a free bearer.

Miyo-tan.—Round or slightly oblong, 2 1/2 inches diameter; average weight, five and one-half ounces; slightly ribbed; deep orange-red; flesh usually deep brown-red, but bright red- or half red- and half brown-fleshed specimens are often produced upon the same tree the results of cross-fertilization by other varieties. Tree of medium or dwarf growth; exceedingly prolific. Fruit keeps very late. The brown-fleshed specimens are edible while solid, and as early as October 1.

Okame.—Large, roundish oblate, with well-defined quarter marks, point not depressed; diameter 2 1/3 '„ inches longitudinally and 3 1/3 inches transversely; skin orange-yellow, changing to brilliant carmine, with delicate bloom and waxy, translucent appearance; the most beautiful of all; light, clear flesh when ripe, with light brown center around the seeds, of which it has several; loses its astringency as soon as it begins to ripen; quality fine. Tree vigorous and good bearer.

Ormond (Boatrom Vining).—Small to medium, oblong, with a tapering pointed four-furrowed apex and rounded base, the large

calyx strongly reflexed; surface deep bright red, carrying a thin bloom, the skin thin and tough; flesh orange-red, becoming very aoft when ripe. December in northern Florida, long-keeping.

Taber No. 23.—Medium, oblate, flat or depressed point; diameter 1 1/3 inches longitudinally and 2 1/3 inches transversely; skin rather dark red, with peculiar stipple marks; flesh dark brown, sweet and not astringent; seedy; good. Prolific.

Taber No. 129.—Medium, roundish, flattened at base; has a small but well-defined point at the apex; diameter about 2 1/2 inches both ways; skin dark yellow-red, with peculiar roughened surface, somewhat resembling alligator leather in appearance and markings, except that the marks are usually very small and uniform; flesh light brown, crisp, sweet, meaty, free from astringency; excellent; a good keeper and shipper.

Tamopan (Fig. 2876).—Imported recently from China, and known as the Chinese Grindstone persimmon; fruit perfectly seedless, not astringent and may be eaten when green and hard; large (3 to 5 inches diameter), sometimes weighing more than one pound, broadly oblate and constricted all tne way around below the middle so that it has a turban-like shape; color bright orange-red, the skin tough and rather thick; flesh light-colored, astringent until ripe, excellent in quality; tree strong and upright.

Tane-Nashi (Fig. 2876).—Large to very large, roundish conical, pointed, very smooth and symmetrical; diameter 3 1/4 inches longitudinally and 3 1/3 inches transversely; skin light yellow, changing to bright red at full maturity; flesh yellow and seedless; quality very fine; perhaps the most highly esteemed of light-fleshed kinds.

Triumph (Fig. 2876).—Medium; tomato-shaped; skin yellow: fleah yellow; generally has a few seeds; very productive; quality of the best. Ripens from September till November.

Tsuru (Fig. 2876).—Large, slender, pointed, longest in propertion to its size of all;diameter 3 1/3 inches longitudinally and 2 1/3 inches transversely; skin bright red; flesh orange-yellow, some dark flesh around the few seeds; astringent until fully ripe, then good.

Yeddo-Ichi.—Large, oblate; diameter 2 1/2 inches longitudinally and 3 inches transversely; very smooth and regular in outline, with dinted appearing surface and slight depression at end opposite the stem; skin darker red than most varieties, with heavy bloom; flesh very dark brown, verging toward purplish; sweet, rich, crisp; in quality one of the best. The fruit is good to cat when still hard.

Ysmon (Among).—Large, flat, tomato-shaped, somewhat four- Bided: diameter 2 1/4 inches longitudinally and 3 1/4 inches transversely; skin light yellow, changing to dull red, mottled with orange- yellow; distinct in color; flesh deep, dull red, brown around the seeds, of which there are usually a few; some specimens are entirely light-fleshed and seedless; there is no astringency after the fruit begins to soften; quality fine; one of the best. In form some of the fruits have the corrugations converging to the depressed apex, as it is usually figured, but most do not.

Zengi.—The smallest of all; round or roundish oblate; diameter 1 1/4 inches longitudinally and 2 1/4 inches transversely; skin yellowish red; flesh very dark, quality good; seedy; edible when still hard; one of the earliest to ripen. Vigorous, prolific.

The above text is from the Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture. It may be out of date, but still contains valuable and interesting information which can be incorporated into the remainder of the article. Click on "Collapse" in the header to hide this text.


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