Persimmon (Diospyros virginiana) is native to the southern two-thirds of the eastern United States, with an east-west line across central Ohio representing the northernmost limit of its native range. It can be planted much farther north in terms of cold hardiness.
This tree is primarily known for its ripened fruits, when provide food for animals and humans alike in mid- to late autumn. It is also known as the tree that provides wood for some of the best wooden golf club heads and billiard cues that can be made; historically, the fine-grained wood was also used in the production of shuttles for the textile industry.
Persimmon may reach 50 feet tall by 30 feet wide when found in the open, sometimes with root suckers that cause it to form colonies or groves. As a member of the Ebony Family, it is related to other species in its genus (one produces ebony wood, another produces much larger persimmon fruits) and other genera in the family, most of which are tropical in origin.
Planting Requirements - Persimmon is quite adaptable to a variety of soil, moisture, and polluted conditions. It prefers moist, well-drained, average soils of various pH's, but easily adapts to poor, rocky, clay, sandy, or even organic soils of dry or moist constitution. It will not tolerate wet sites, but it can survive on thin soils or strip-mined soils. It is found in zones 4 to 9, in full sun to partial sun.
Potential Problems - Persimmon has relatively few diseases (leafspot on occasion) and pests. Aside from being slow-growing and with the potential in heavy fruiting years to create a sticky mess at the bottom of female trees, it has no liabilities.
Identifying Features - Persimmon
Persimmon has alternate, oblong to elliptical, medium to dark green leaves in summer, sometimes with hints of yellow, orange, and purple-red during fall coloration, but often simply fading to light green or chartreuse and abscising during autumn.
Young trees can be especially handsome with their full canopy of dark green foliage.
Persimmon is primarily a dioecious species, having male and female flowers on separate trees. The small flowers appear in late spring and early summer, and have a fused corolla of four yellow petals, surrounded by a green calyx which enlarges and persists at the base of the resulting green fruits.
As the bitter green immature fruits ripen in autumn, they change to a pink-orange color, soften, and become sweet-tasting, especially after they have endured several frosts and mild freezes. Enclosed in each fruit are several flattened, dark brown seeds.
As the tree ages, it takes on a deeply furrowed and high-ridged mature bark, having a blocky texture to the dark gray, broken ridges.
Persimmon bark - mature
The mature bark of Persimmon somewhat resembles that of Black Tupelo, but has more pointed,rather than flattened, blocky ridges.