Persimmons are a genus of trees belonging to the Ebony family (Ebenaceae), best
known for ebony and persimmons. The scientific name Diospyros translates as "divine fruit".
Diospyros kaki: Asian Persimmon is the most widely cultivated and has thousands of cultivars.
- A few other persimmons are edible, although some barely palatable. These include
- Diospyros lotus: Date-Plum (originated in southwest Asia and southeast Europe and known to the
ancient Greeks, still in limited cultivation)
- D. discolor: Mabolo (Philippines and Asia)
- D. nigra: Black Sapote / Chocolate Pudding Fruit (Mexico)
- D. virginiana: American Persimmon (hardy in USDA zone 5-8, in limited production)
- D. peregrina: Indian Persimmon (India)
- D. texana: Texas Persimmon
30-50 productive years.
25' high and at least as wide.
Inconspicuous, fragrant. Male flowers occur in groups of three, female flowers occur singly.
Usually male and female exist on separate trees but both can appear on the same tree, and
rarely, perfect bisexual flowers appear.
Many (female) cultivars will produce seedless fruit without pollination. Some will need
pollination. Pollinated flowers may produce seeded fruit that is larger and different than
unpollinated ones. A second cultivar nearby often increases the amount of (seeded) fruit.
Years before fruiting:
Spherical to oval, with an indented stem and four sepals. The skin is thin, waxy, and yellow
to orange-red on the outside when ripe. The inside of the fruit is thick and pulpy, with a
soft to fibrous texture. Seeded varieties may have up to 8 seeds.
Persimmon cultivars fall into three groups: astringent, non-astringent and
pollination-variant (astringent when seedless). The immature fruit have a high tannin content
with a very astringent taste. As they mature, non-astringent cultivars like 'Fuyu' lose the
tannins and become sweet when fully colored and still hard. Astringent cultivars like 'Hachiya'
do not lose the tannins when fully colored and become edible only after they change to a very
soft, custard-like consistency.
Months for fruit to ripen:
6-8. Harvest the fruit when fully colored but still hard, to avoid bird predation. Use clippers
to cut the stem just above the calyx (green leaf-like structure between the fruit and the stem).
The fruit tend to persist on a tree for several months after ripening. They will continue to
ripen after harvest, especially when placed in a bowl with apples or bananas.
Fruit that are not fully colored will take much longer to ripen off the tree.
Storage after harvest:
Several weeks at room temperature. The quickest method to remove astringency from astringent
cultivars like 'Hachiya' is to place the fruit in a freezer for 24 hours. When thawed, the
fruit are non-astringent. Otherwise, place them in a bowl and leave them for several weeks
until they are very soft.
Some cultivars, such as 'Fuyu', suffer chill damage in refrigeration, but can be frozen
or kept at 30-32°F, not above.
Other cultivars, such as 'Hachiya', can be refrigerated for up to one month, encased
individually in plastic bags. Do not expose to other ripening fruit in the refrigerator.
Persimmons can also be peeled and dried, whole or sliced, when hard. This will make even
astringent varieties sweet and ready to eat.
Leaves: Medium to dark green, broadly lance-shaped, smooth
The rootstock most commonly used for grafting is Diospyros lotus. D. kaki itself has a deep tap
root and some cultivars may not be grafted.
Cultivars of note for hot climates:
has medium size fruit that are non-astringent and crunchy when ripe. It is a self-fruitful,
'Giant Fuyu' has larger fruit that are sweet,
flavorful, non-astringent and crunchy when ripe. It is a self-fruitful, easy to grow tree.
'Hachiya' has large fruit that are sweet, flavorful,
and astringent until they are ripe when very soft. It is a self-fruitful, vigorous tree.
The flowers attract bees. The fruit attracts birds and mammals.
Toxic / Danger:
Cultivation and Uses
USDA hardiness zones:
8-11 for 'Fuyu' and 'Hachiya'.
200. If leaves emerge during an early spring warm spell, they can be killed at 26°F by a
This plant does better in temperatures below 90°F. A few cultivars can endure temperatures
over 100°F but the tree must be mulched well, watered every two days, and grown in enriched
soil. High temperatures may reduce the size of the fruit crop.
Not above 90°F.
Full morning sun with afternoon shade.
Locate this tree where it will receive morning sun and afternoon shade. The soil must be pH
neutral, well drained, and have high organic content. An automatic irrigation system, using
bubblers, should be installed to provide water at the drip line.
Persimmons accept many soil types if they are well drained, with moderate to high organic
content, soil pH 6.6-7.5 (neutral), and deeply dug if using D. kaki rootstock. These trees are
not salt tolerant.
Do not fertilize unless leaves are not dark green or shoots grow less than one foot a year. Use
an organic fertilizer, when necessary, in mid to late winter. Excess nitrogen causes fruit drop.
Water after becoming established:
Every two days in high heat to once a month in cooler temperatures. Use a bubbler irrigation
system, at the drip line, with an automatic timer. Change the duration and frequency of
watering as often as weekly depending on the average expected temperature. A temperature
sensing, computer-controlled irrigation system would be ideal. Increase water in the spring
and taper off in the fall. Fruit drop occurs with insufficient water.
Spread organic mulch under the canopy and 8" from the trunk to reduce moisture evaporation and
lessen root area temperature extremes.
In early winter, prune to develop a strong structure. Flowers appear on the current season's
branch growth. Fuyu fruit must be thinned to avoid branch breakage.
Leaves in fall. Messy fruit drop if not harvested.
Cuttings grafted onto appropriate rootstock, seed.
Edible fruit, ornamental.
Other names are Japanese Persimmon, Kaki, Chinese Plum and if dried, Chinese fig.
Persimmons are very popular in Asia but a minor fruit in North America. The bottom picture
shows a seedless Fuyu sliced horizontally.
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