In praise of the American Persimmon, Diospyros virginiana some field photos

View previous topic View next topic Go down

In praise of the American Persimmon, Diospyros virginiana some field photos

Post  Leo Schordje on Sun Dec 02, 2012 6:58 am

Through the magic of copy and paste, I am posting this post to 2 forums, so if you read it over there, this is the same text.

Thanksgiving was at my sister's house this year. Pomona, IL, her home is 14 miles from a numbered highway, south of Murphysboro, IL in the Shawnee National Forest. Way out in the woods as far as this Chicago born urbanite is concerned. I remembered the last night I was there to collect some 'simmons to eat on the way home and to save seed from. Time to start a batch for bonsai. And I took some pictures. Sorry about the twilight, but I forgot to shoot pictures earlier in the day.

About 8 years ago I planted an American persimmon seedling in her front yard, it came from fruit from the approximately 50 or more year old tree that is in a hedgerow down the road. The 8 year old started bearing fruit last year, this year it is still sparse but getting better.

This year the weather was perfect for picking American Persimmons, the fruit had been frosted several times, and the weather was dry enough it had not molded. Many trees still had lots of fruit hanging, some years it is all on the ground by Thanksgiving. Very tasty. Sweet, aromatic, redolent with a spice that is hard to describe, almost cinnamon, but not. Allspice? At any rate, it is a wonderful fruit. Most likely it will never become a commercial fruit. I did discover why. Harvest 20 off one tree, 19 with be as sweet as can be, and then that one, from the same tree, will be so astringent your mouth just dries out and you loose all interest in food for an hour or so. But the astringency does increase your thirst for beer, so a good time was had by all.

As potential bonsai, the wood is reported to be very hard, which means once wired, it will hold a shape. Diospyros is the genus that includes Ebony. It develops a really nice bark, the 8 year old seedling was beginning to get the checked alligator pattern. The bark is extremely hard, it won't flake off easy, making repotting easier. They seem to be forest edge and hedgerow trees. So part shade would be best. They are summer heat tolerant and winter hardy through zone 5.

Bark of 50 year old D. virginiana, American Persimmon


8 year old seedling bark


Branch structure is not that different than Kaki, open, with coarse twigs. I believe in bonsai training the twigs will become fairly fine. Of course the fruit will be one of the focal points, it is not that large. Most fruit are less than 2 inches in diameter. They start out green, ripen to orange, and only become edible after after they are soft ripe when they are wrinkled and begin turning brown. If the weather is dry, they keep on the tree in the soft ripe state and don't fall until after several frosts. Wikipaedia says the just need to get soft ripe to loose the astringency. I since I don't usually get to persimmon country until after first frost I would not know. Key is, if they are not ripe, they have a striking astringency that is impressive. Its not harmful, just makes your mouth pucker and dry out. Beer is the only cure!

Branch of 50+ year old persimmon



branch and fruit of 8 year old persimmon


The natural growth habit of persimmon is a single trunk when growing as a forest understory tree, or a clump style when growing in a hedgerow or more open location. The 8 year old tree has branched low to form 3 trunks, and the 50 year old hedgerow tree is also 3 trunks. It is a shape that looks good with these trees.

The 3 trunks of the 8 year old tree - with my bro-in-law's rough pruning off of lower branches. Likely getting hit by the weed whacker helped to induce the formation of a clump, I know who mows the lawn. Wink




The silhouette of the 50 plus year old tree, with the moon in the background. (and my sister's pole barn) Notice the three trunks, one slightly dominant over the other two. Again, either browsing bovines, or deer or the tractor with the brush hog likely encouraged the formation of multiple trunks. Most of the larger forest specimens are single trunked, a photo is below.



Here is an image of a single trunk persimmon, Just down the trail from the parking lot for the Natural Bridge of the Shawnee forest. This area was last logged in the 1930's, so this tree is likely approaching 100 years old. It is as tall as the surrounding canopy trees, so it is at least 75 feet or more tall. There is some fruit still hanging but it is hard to see at this distance. You can tell this tree grew in the forest, it has a beautiful vase shape. Most younger forest trees I have seen have a single trunk, rather than this vase shape, but this tree was exceptionally tall, which implies it is much older that most of the trees I've seen. The vase branches don't start until quite high up the trunk. An impressive tree when you realize most think of persimmons as being no bigger than an apple tree.



As I type I'm still munching on the last of the persimmons I brought home. Saving the seeds. Really nice flavor, very sweet, and nice light spicy note. Maybe like a spiced pear, with a soft texture. Some will complain they are mushy, but hey, I like bananas and I like apples.

If you are lucky enough to have a local source for yourself, the seed must not be dried out. One needs to remove the pulp, I prefer the "eat 'em up, yum" method, wrap the seeds in a damp paper towel, put it into a plastic bag and into the refrigerator until it is warm enough to plant them out. If they dry out the embryo will die. Or you can plant them in a pot, put the pot out with your cold hardy bonsai and just keep the pot damp for the winter. They must have at least 8 to 12 weeks below 40 F to sprout, a damp stratification. I have never noticed a male persimmon tree, but without fruit they are unlikely to grab my attention. Wikipedia says the trees are either male or female. So if you are raising seedlings, always raise several, a good number is at least 6. Then the probability will be fairly high you have one of each. The female flowers can set fruit without being pollinated, and these fruits will be seedless. But fruit set will be much heavier if you have a male tree near by.

I wish I had taken better care of the batch of seedlings I started 8 years ago, I don't have any left in pots. The survivors all got planted in one relative or another's back yards. So today I am setting up another batch of seed, hopefully a few will eventually become bonsai. So I write this to encourage others to give the american persimmon a try. The bark really is quite nice. I haven't seen any Princess persimmons with anything other than smooth bark, but I haven't seen any older Princess persimmons. The fact that the bark starts to form before the tree is 10 years old may make this a superior species to use. Also American Persimmon is fully hardy to zone 5, and perhaps with some protection into zone 4. Most growers in the lower 48 states could raise this tree without having to do much to protect it in winter beyond getting it out of the sun and wind. Put it under the back yard bench. Drop a tarp over 3 sides and you are good. It probably needs some winter rest, but for southern Florida, and southern Texas there is a different species of Diospyros that takes over.

So try your hand at Diospyros virginiana if you get the chance. I really feel this is an underutilized species that deserves more attention. And if I get away from the computer tonight, I will do my part to help make some more seedlings available.

Oh, there are commercial sources, actually quite a few. Here are some:

places to buy young seedlings (I have no connection to these places)
http://www.musserforests.com/browse.asp?m=1&p=x
http://www.oikostreecrops.com/store/home.asp
http://www.forestfarm.com/product.php?id=1625

place to buy grafted cultivars selected for fruit quality
http://www.nolinnursery.com/
I have purchased from Nolin River Nursery in the past, and was quite happy with them. They have many selected nut cultivars, Pecan, Walnut, Hickory, and Pawpaws too.

Leo Schordje
Member


Back to top Go down

Re: In praise of the American Persimmon, Diospyros virginiana some field photos

Post  leatherback on Sun Dec 02, 2012 7:04 am

Nice post.

I'd almost think you are setting up your own commercial persimon fruit dealership Very Happy

leatherback
Member


Back to top Go down

Re: In praise of the American Persimmon, Diospyros virginiana some field photos

Post  Khaimraj Seepersad on Sun Dec 02, 2012 9:55 am

Leo,

I used to be a vegetable vampire, I would trot on down to the local vegetable stalls in Florence, and buy 6 to 8 persimmons, every day, age them to a soft state and then so many days later, sit and suck them dry, before munching the skins-chuckle.
That was back in 1982 or so.

A few weeks ago, I got a very tasty persimmon, and as a joke planted 2 seeds. They germinated, and are growing. Now I have to see if they can handle being refrigerated for 2 months and - if - I can keep them growing. Wish me luck.

Have you tried to airlayer a mature branch?

Used to love looking at the persimmons hanging on the bare branches in winter. So much colour in a largely grey world of stone, and dark skies.
Thanks muchly for the post and images and memories.
Later.
Khaimraj

Khaimraj Seepersad
Member


Back to top Go down

Re: In praise of the American Persimmon, Diospyros virginiana some field photos

Post  JimLewis on Sun Dec 02, 2012 12:55 pm

We have two growing 20-year-old (or so) near our barn. They are quite attractive, but I have never considered them for bonsai; the leaves are quite large and my bonsai are quite small. They fruit prolifically every year but the critters get the fruit before we do -- especially the ravens. They have a nice purple-red leaf color in the spring.

There is a huge one in the park where we and our dogs walk along the Pacolet River every morning. It is very messy, when the fruit drop in early winter; you have to tiptoe though the rotting fruit, which are too high to pick.

_________________
Jim Lewis - lewisjk@windstream.net - Western NC - People, when Columbus discovered this country, it was plumb full of nuts and berries. And I'm right here to tell you the berries are just about all gone. Uncle Dave Macon, old-time country musician

JimLewis
Member


Back to top Go down

Re: In praise of the American Persimmon, Diospyros virginiana some field photos

Post  Leo Schordje on Sun Dec 02, 2012 3:47 pm

Khaimraj Seepersad wrote: .........A few weeks ago, I got a very tasty persimmon, and as a joke planted 2 seeds. They germinated, and are growing. Now I have to see if they can handle being refrigerated for 2 months and - if - I can keep them growing. Wish me luck.

Have you tried to airlayer a mature branch?

Used to love looking at the persimmons hanging on the bare branches in winter. So much colour in a largely grey world of stone, and dark skies.
Thanks muchly for the post and images and memories.
Later.
Khaimraj
Thanks
They probably do better with the refrigerator treatment than many other genera. 2 months would probably be enough. I have never tried air layering, or take cuttings, most likely they will respond similar to the Japanese persimmon. Does anyone have experience with either species, cuttings or air layers?

Leo Schordje
Member


Back to top Go down

Re: In praise of the American Persimmon, Diospyros virginiana some field photos

Post  Leo Schordje on Sun Dec 02, 2012 3:51 pm

JimLewis wrote:We have two growing 20-year-old (or so) near our barn. They are quite attractive, but I have never considered them for bonsai; the leaves are quite large and my bonsai are quite small. They fruit prolifically every year but the critters get the fruit before we do -- especially the ravens. They have a nice purple-red leaf color in the spring.

There is a huge one in the park where we and our dogs walk along the Pacolet River every morning. It is very messy, when the fruit drop in early winter; you have to tiptoe though the rotting fruit, which are too high to pick.

Since the fruit hang on long after the leaves drop, the leaf size is not a big issue. I imagine, but don't know from experience 'yet', the leaves will reduce proportionally to the reduction one gets when using the Japanese persimmon. How's the bark on your 20 year old tree? Do you think they would develop bark when grown in a pot?

Leo Schordje
Member


Back to top Go down

Re: In praise of the American Persimmon, Diospyros virginiana some field photos

Post  JimLewis on Sun Dec 02, 2012 4:03 pm

How's the bark on your 20 year old tree?
Much like the mature bark you showed.


Do you think they would develop bark when grown in a pot?

Sure, given the time.

_________________
Jim Lewis - lewisjk@windstream.net - Western NC - People, when Columbus discovered this country, it was plumb full of nuts and berries. And I'm right here to tell you the berries are just about all gone. Uncle Dave Macon, old-time country musician

JimLewis
Member


Back to top Go down

Re: In praise of the American Persimmon, Diospyros virginiana some field photos

Post  Sponsored content Today at 5:41 pm


Sponsored content


Back to top Go down

View previous topic View next topic Back to top


 
Permissions in this forum:
You cannot reply to topics in this forum