Persimmon Tree

Persimmon leaves in early fall


The original persimmon tree is native to China and has been cultivated for centuries, with over 2,000 different cultivars. For the most part, persimmon trees can be broken into two categories: trees that bear astringent fruit until they are soft and ripe and those trees that bear non-astringent fruit. Non-astringent fruit are usually eaten when still hard like an apple; they are sweet and crisp. Astringent fruit have a disagreeable taste until ripe, when they become soft and smooth with a melting sweet flavor.

Persimmon trees are eligible for a $100 Tree Rebate as long as they’re not dwarf varieties or saplings.

Common Name

Latin Name
Diospyros virginiana

Persimmon leaves are alternate, simple, ovate and up to 7 inches long and 4 inches wide. When the tree is young the leaves are often a pale, slightly yellowish green. As the tree matures the leaves turn a dark, glossy green.

The persimmon tree flowers between March and June, depending on the cultivar. The female flowers are creamy white with four petals. They are borne on one-year-old new growth only. Most persimmon cultivars are parthenocarpic (setting seedless fruit with pollination), although some conditions and climates may require pollination for more adequate production. All self-fertile fruit trees are capable of setting their own fruit, but will always have a better harvest when cross-pollination is introduced.

The shape of the persimmon fruit can vary depending on the cultivar. It can be spherical, acorn-like, flattened or squarish. The color of persimmon fruits can vary from light yellow-orange to dark orange-red. The size can be more than a pound to as little as a few ounces. The entire fruit is edible except the seeds and the calyx.

The persimmon tree branches are somewhat brittle and can be damaged in high winds.

The bark is smooth on a young persimmon, but as it matures it turns dark gray or dark brown with deep fissures dividing the bark into small rectangular blocks along the trunk.

The persimmon can have either a multi-stem or single-stem trunk, with drooping leaves and branches that give it a languid, rather tropical appearance.

The persimmon can grow up to 25 feet in height and at least as wide.

Native Range
Different varieties of persimmons have different native ranges, including China, Japan, Korea, and the U.S. Their hardiness zones are 7 through 10.

Seasonal Colors
During autumn, leaves turn shades of yellow, orange, and red.

Persimmons can adjust to a wide variety of soils as long as its not too salty and drains well. Persimmons have a strong tap root so it’s recommended to dig a deep hole when planting.

Persimmons can tolerate partial sunlight, but prefer full sunlight and produce better fruits in full sunlight.

Best Cultivars
Eureka, Hachiya (astringent); Fuyu, Izu (non-astringent)

Harvesting Time
It’s recommended to harvest astringent varieties when they are hard but fully colored. They will soften on the tree and improve in quality but you will lose a lot of fruit to the birds. Astringent fruit will ripen off the tree if stored at room temperature. Non-astringent persimmons can be harvested when they are fully colored, but for best flavor, store them until they slightly soften. Use hand pruners when harvesting the fruit and cut the stem as close as possible to the fruit. Astringency can be lessened by freezing the fruit overnight; thawing removes the astringency and softens the fruit.

Management Practices
Persimmon trees have few insect or disease problems; overall they are a very resilient and low-maintenance tree. During midsummer there is a 1/8-inch insect called a psylid that will suck at newly emerging persimmon leaves for approximately a month. If they cause too much damage, they can be eliminated with a biodegradable soap. The dogwood borer may cause some damage in the lower trunk of the tree. If you notice any holes with sawdust around it near the grass lines you can kill the borer by inserting a wire through the damage and squishing the borer at the end. Most animals are fond of the fruit. Spraying a 1-part-Tabasco, 5-parts-water mixture on the fruit once a week should deter animals.

Rebate Eligibility
As long as the persimmon tree is not a dwarf or a sapling it is eligible for a $100 rebate.

Photo Credits

Robert Couse-Baker