American persimmon

The American persimmon on February 8, 2018
Basic Information
Tree ID: 
Genus and species: 
This tree produces fragrant flowers that are dioecious, meaning that each tree only has one gender of flowers. At around six years of age, American persimmon trees can produce round orange fruits upon pollination by wind and insects.
Collected Data
Tree shape: 
Date of tree entry: 
3.90 m
Diameter at breast height: 
0.24 m

There are too many multiple trunks to accurately measure the DBH, so this is just an estimate
Persimmon trees are known and recognized by their dark wood. The bark forms distinct rectangles, which a distinct feature of the tree. The persimmon trees display a pattern made up of blocks with vertical ridges tan run down the trunk. The bark can sometimes be infected with gummosis fungi and flatheads eat the inner bark and can damage limbs.
Twigs & branches
The branches are gray or brown and very smoot, exhibiting 'alternate' arrangement of branching.
The branching of persimmon leaves is alternate. The leaves have an ovate shaped and are dark green in color. They can grow anywhere from 3 to 7 inches. The top of the leaves is glossy and the bottom of the leaves is softer and more leathery. The edges of the leaves are smooth (UVM 2018).
Reproductive Structures
The flowers of the American persimmon begin to bloom in May and stay in bloom until June (UVM 2018). Because the plant is dioecious, the male trees have different flowers than the female trees. The male flowers are white-green and grow in clusters, whereas the female trees form solitary flowers that are a bit more yellow (UVM 2018).
The American Persimmon produces fruits quite different from its Asian counterparts, as depicted in the image above (The Fruit Nut 2014). It is a semi-wild fruit that is much smaller than the Asian persimmon, which is found more commonly in grocery stores. The fruit are quite juicy and sweet when ripe, but nearly impossible to joy when unripe due to the bitterness (Rick 2018). They take a long time to ripen and remain on the branch even after the leaes have fallen (The Fruit Nut 2014). The fruits are considered juicy berries, have flattened seeds, grow in clusters, and have an enlarge calyx (Encyclopedia Britannica).
  • American persimmon in the winter after the leaves have fallen, but before the fruit has fallen.
  • American persimmon in the winter after the fruit and leaves have fallen. Notice the alligator bark.
  • American persimmon in the spring after the leaves have expanded.
  • American persimmon in the spring after the first flowers have bloomed (around May).
  • American persimmon in the summer when flowers have become fruit (overlaps with late spring).
  • American persimmon in the fall after the leaves have changed colors.
  • American persimmon in the fall after the leaves have fallen.
Natural range of distribution: 
The American persimmon is found natively as far north as New York and western Connecticut, as far south as Flordia, and as far west as Okalahoma (Central Park Conservancy 2018; Tree Trail 2017). They like to grow on low wetlands but can also grow on drier lands (Central Park Conservancy 2018). Specfically, they prefer moist but well-drained soil, but they can also be found in sandy, less fertile soil as they can living in a variety of pHs (UConn 2018). They do require, however, lots of sun (UConn 2018).
Origin, history, and uses: 

The American persimmon has a Japanese relative and likely came to the Americas early on in evolution or through the Bering strait. It was first described in Captain John Smith in 1609, who discovered the species in Virginia and said its fruit tasted like an apricot (Rick 2018). It was also described by early botanists, such as William Bartram, and presidents, like George Washington and Thomas Jefferson (Rick 2018). 

Diospyros virginiana is used for its fruit and wood. The fruit is produces is juice and pinkish-orange and can be very sweet if eaten when overripe (Rick 2018). As such the fruit should not be picked until it is ripe, plump, and soft to the touch (Rick 2018). Growing in a wide range of forests, its wood is also appealing. Wood carvers like to use it for its decorative grain and golf club manufactures like to use it for its durability (Rick 2018). 

In the Southern Hemisphere, shoots grow in september and stop growing in July; leaves grow in september and fall off in May and June; anthesis of flowers begins in October; fruits are produced from November to April; and the trunk expands from May to June (Scheepers 2010). These periods are reversed in the Northern Hemisphere.
  1. Central Park Conservancy. (2018) Plant Highlight | American Persimmon. Accessible at 
  2. Encyclopedia Britannica. (2018). Persimmon. Accessible at 
  3. Rick, Pat. (2018) History of the Persimmon Tree. Accessible at 
  5. The Fruit Nut. (2014). American Persimmon. Accesssibe at 
  6. Tree Trail. (2017) American Persimmon. Accessible at 
  7. UConn. (2018) Diospyros virginiana. Accessible at 
  8. UVM. (2018) American Persimmon : Locating and Identifying the American Persimmon. Accessible at…
Other information of interest: 

The American persimmon is also known as the “sugar-plum”

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