Scientific name: Anthophyta: Dicotyledonae: Ebenales: Ebenaceae: Diospyros virginiana
Common Name: Information Sheet, Common Persimmon
Photographer: E. M. Barrows
Identifier: E. M. Barrows
Collector: not appplicable
Keywords: Common Persimmon Forest Ecology green flower green fruit orange fruit tree
Information Sheet, Common Persimmon
Diospyros virginiana Linnaeus, Common Persimmon, Persimmon (Ebenaceae, Ebony Family)
[Greek, Dios, of Jove; pyros, grain; virginiana, Virginian]
(Sutton & Sutton 1985, plates 56, 185; Petrides 1988, plate 44; Kricher & Morrison 1998, 104)
Tree, up to 130 feet tall, often 20–70 feet tall.
Crown: cylindrical to rounded, dense, with slender, drooping branches, become broad, round topped with age.
Trunk, up to 1 foot across, continuous into the crown, slender, tapering, short in forest-grown specimens, often free of branches for up to 70 feet; bark, blocky, dark; sometimes a short shrubby tree; leaves, dark green, glossy above, pale below, oval, pointed, stiff, toothless; flowers, pale yellow, urn-shaped; sometimes covered with fruit; sometimes forms thickets of small trees.
Identification by leaves.
In Forest Ecology some students find it difficult to identify Common Persimmon, Spicebush, and Tupelo by their leaves.
All three species have alternate, simple, toothless leaves.
Common Persimmon and Tupelo leaves are very similar, but Common Persimmon leaves usually have more obvious lateral buds at the bases, which Tupelo usually doesn't have.
Spicebush leaves have a distinctive fragrance.
Sassafras leaves have four different forms (unlobed, 2-lobed, 3-lobed, 5-lobed).
Unlobed Sassafras leaves closely resemble those of Spicebush, but unlobed Sassafras leaves are usually accompanied by lobed leaves, and Sassafras leaves have a different fragrance than Spicebush leaves.
Eastern Flowering Dogwood has opposite, simple, toothless leaves.
General roles in forests.
Common Persimmon is an autotroph that lives in forests, forest edges, fields, successional areas, a yards, and elsewhere.
Many kinds of organisms consume dead and living Common Persimmon fruits, leaves, roots, and stems.
Specific roles in forests.
Common Persimmon leaf, root, and stem feeders (parasites) include 2 bacterium spp., 1 beetle sp., 4 borer spp., 33 fungus spp., 2 mealy-bug spp., 2 mistletoe spp., 4 moth spp. (Hickory Horned Devil, Luna Moth, etc.), 2 nematode spp., 23 scale spp., 1 thrips spp., 1 weevil sp., 1 whitefly sp. (Horst 1990, 767; Westcott 1973, 579).
Nectar and pollen feeders (parasites, pollinators, predators) are kinds of arthropods, including beetle,, butterfly., bee., flower-fly., other fly, moth, and wasp spp.
Common Persimmon is a minor through major honey plant in the continental U.S. (Pellett 1978). Its honey is amber and delightfully flavorful.
Fruit feeders, fruit dispersers, frugivores, and parasites include Bobwhite Quail, Wild Turkey, Foxes, O'possum, Raccoon, skunks, and White-tailed Deer, which help spread Common Persimmon by defecating its seeds.
We plant Common Persimmons as ornamental, shade trees.
Some people eat Common Persimmons as fresh fruit, jam and in cakes and nut bread, pudding, and tea (Peterson 1977, 194).
Collect fruits by spreading a sheet under a tree and shaking it. Fruit astringency varies among trees (Brown 1921, 309), and some trees have nonastringent, sweet fruits.
The Kaki (native to China, Japan, and Korea) has replaced the Common Persimmon in most markets in the U.S. (Davidson and Knox 1991, 50).
People grow Kakis in California.
An Israeli cultivar called Sharon Fruit is seedless, has no core, and contains no tannin.
Chinese prepare Kakis as special foods. Do tannins in Common Persimmon fruits pucker our mouths?
Captain John Smith (17th Century) exclaimed "if it be not ripe it will drawe a mans mouth awrie with much torment; but when it is ripe, it is as delicious as an Apricock."
Some people make an excellent, full-bodied, vitamin-C-rich tea out of Common Persimmon dried leaves.
Native Americans made Common Persimmon bread and stored dry this fruit dried like prunes.
We use Common Persimmon wood for billiard cues, flooring, furniture veneer, golf-club heads, mallets, shoe lasts, shuttles for textile weaving, and sporting and athletic goods.
There are about 200 persimmon species in the tropics and subtropics. Common Persimmon is the only native persimmon member of the Ebony Family in the WDC Area.
Plant breeders have developed several varieties of Common Persimmon for fruit production.
From 1992 through 2001, our Forest Ecology class visited a large Common Persimmon tree in a shale barrens area of West Virginia.
During each September, it usually has fruits and highly diseased green leaves.
Ebony, Diopyros ebenum Koenig., is in the Bible (Ezekiel 27:15) (Zohary 1982).
Xylem: close grained, dark brown to nearly black, fine textured, hard, heavy, strong.
Phloem: lighter colored than xylem, thick.