The American Persimmon is a native tree that has orange, plum-like fruits with a sweet flavor. The fruits are eaten fresh and in desserts. It is an incredibly attractive, economical food source. Healthy sources of mast such as persimmon are beneficial to bucks, but does and their nursing fawns receive added benefit through the vitamins and minerals found in ripe fruit. The persimmon tree is adapted to an incredibly wide range of moisture, fertility, and pH levels, and can be found anywhere from the lowest-lying swampy sites all the way up the hill to the poorest, eroded uplands. Like most trees, persimmons put on the best growth in a moderately to well-drained fertile soil, but their best use may be in areas that aren’t so productive for timber or food plots.
Diospyros virginiana is a deciduous tree with a rounded oval crown that grows to 35-60’ tall. It is native from Connecticut to Kansas south to Florida and Texas. It typically occurs in rocky or dry open woods, limestone glades, prairies, thickets, abandoned fields and along roadsides. It is one of the easiest trees to identify in winter because of its distinctive thick, dark gray bark that is broken into rectangular blocks. Plants are usually dioecious (separate male and female trees), but some trees have perfect flowers. Fragrant, white to greenish-yellow flowers bloom in late spring, with the male flowers appearing in clusters and the female flowers appearing solitary. Edible persimmon fruits (1-2” in diameter) mature in fall to an orange to reddish-purple color, and may persist on the tree into winter. Ovate to elliptic leaves (2-6” long) are glossy dark green above, and turn yellowish-green (infrequently reddish purple) in autumn. Persimmon fruit is quite astringent when green, but upon ripening becomes sweet and may be eaten off the tree. Fruits are commonly used in syrups, jellies, ice creams or pies. Persimmon leaves can be used to make teas. Persimmon is a member of the ebony family. The wood is extremely hard and has been used to make golf club heads, billiard cues and shoe lasts.
Easily grown in average, dry to medium, well-drained soils in full sun to part shade. Somewhat wide range of soil tolerance, but prefers moist, sandy soils. Drought tolerant. Promptly remove root suckers unless naturalized effect is desired. Female trees need a male pollinator in order to set fruit. Zones 4-9.