The Common Persimmon (Diospyros virginiana) is a touch medium-sized decidious native tree that can thrive under difficult conditions. It is oval rounded in shape with dark green long leaves with smooth edges coloring redidish purple in the fall. The bark of the persimmon is dark gray consisting of square blocks. Twigs are light brown and zigzag with broad, dark red-brown buds. Fragrant, whitish flowers bloom in late spring, with the male flowers appearing in clusters and the female flowers appearing solitary. Female trees need a male pollinator in order to set fruit. Persimmon fruits mature in fall to an orange to reddish-purple color, and may stay on the tree into winter. Native to central and eastern United States, persimmon is common and familiar as a wild fruit tree and occasionally planted for fruit or as an ornamental.
There are about 200 species in the genus Diospyros, which itself is related to the ebony tree and like ebony wood, persimmon wood is dark brown, almost black. The wood is also strong and elastic with wavy grain. It has been used for constructing golf clubs Most of the members live in tropical or subtropical climes. Dios is from the Greek meaning “divine” and pyros mean “wheat” or “grain” for this divine fruit.
Common name: Persimmon, Possumwood
Scientific Name (family and order): Diospyros virginiana L. (Ebenaceae, Ericales)
Species Origin: Eastern North America
New Jersey Status: USDA Native
Habit: 20 -100’ tall, 1-2’ wide; broadly spreading with drooping branches.
Habitat: Zone 4 -9. woods and dry soils.
Trunk/Stem: Trunk short, straight, slender; bark dark brown to black, fissured into characteristic small square plates.
Leaves: Deciduous, Simple, Alternate. Ovate to oblong 4 ¾” long and 3” wide, apex pointed (acuminate, attenuate), margins smooth; upper surface dark green often glossy ; gray-green and smooth or hairy below. In fall leaves orange to red with black spots.
Flowers: Dioecious. Male and female flowers both 3/8” diameter, long yellow. Male flowers tubular shape in clusters, 16 stamens; female flowers bell-shaped, singly-placed along the young shoots on separate plants. Flowers 4-lobed with a short petiole growing from the axils. Flowers open in midsummer, fragrant. Superior ovary.
Fruits and seeds: Edible berry, 1 ½” wide, green, ripening to yellowish red or orange-red. Calyx remains on the fruit. The fruits are astringent; they sweeten in autumn. Fruits persist into winter. The fruits contain 4 -8 flattened ½” wide brown seeds