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Diospyros virginiana

Phonetic Spelling
dy-OS-pe-res ver-jin-ee-AY-nah
Description

Diospyros virginiana, or American Persimmon, is a deciduous tree in the ebony family, 30 to 70 feet high with a 1 to 2 foot diameter erect trunk, native to central and eastern USA and found throughout North Carolina, except in the higher mountains. It is slow-growing and thicket forming and can be a nuisance in fields. It can take 10 to 15 years before the tree bears fruit. The trees are usually dioecious (separate male and female and both are needed for fruiting to occur). Flowering is in spring to early summer with fruit ripening in the fall. A string of cool days is usually needed for maturation. The 1 to 2 inch fruits are orange and very sweet when ripe. They are a source of food for many types of birds and mammals.

Moist, well-drained sandy soils provide the best conditions for growth but the tree will tolerate hot, dry, poor soils and clay, including urban conditions. Under poor conditions, it will often maintain a 15 foot shrub-like appearance, but in rich, moist soil it can grow to its maximum height. It is a pioneer species and invades relatively open areas where there is less competition. In the wild, it is often found on most soil types from sands to shales and mud bottom lands. It blooms and fruits best in full sun to partial shade. A deep taproot makes it difficult to transplant.

Cultivars are available that may make a better tree for the home garden. It can also be grown as an ornamental, fruit tree, or in naturalized areas for wildlife.

Insects, Diseases, or Other Plant Problems: 

No known insect or disease problems. Leaf spot may occur.

VIDEO Created by Elisabeth Meyer for "Edibles, Bulbs, and Houseplants" a plant identification course offered in partnership with Longwood Gardens.   

Profile Video:
See this plant in the following landscape:
Woodland Backyard Garden Walk
Cultivars / Varieties:
'C-100', 'Killen', ‘Meader’, 'Morris Burton', 'Prok', Var. mosieri, Var. platycarpa, Var. pubescens
Tags:
#fragrant#deciduous#rain garden#wildlife plant#native tree#moths#medicinal#berries#playground#food source#highly beneficial coastal plants#cpp#low flammability#NC native#foxes#black bears#deer resistant#children's garden#fire resistant#edible fruits#Braham Arboretum#fantz#larval host plant#food source fall#food source herbage#food source nectar#food source pollen#coastal FAC#Piedmont Mountains FAC#fruits#bird friendly#mammals#food source soft mast fruit#butterfly friendly#ebh#ebh-fn
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
'C-100', 'Killen', ‘Meader’, 'Morris Burton', 'Prok', Var. mosieri, Var. platycarpa, Var. pubescens
Tags:
#fragrant#deciduous#rain garden#wildlife plant#native tree#moths#medicinal#berries#playground#food source#highly beneficial coastal plants#cpp#low flammability#NC native#foxes#black bears#deer resistant#children's garden#fire resistant#edible fruits#Braham Arboretum#fantz#larval host plant#food source fall#food source herbage#food source nectar#food source pollen#coastal FAC#Piedmont Mountains FAC#fruits#bird friendly#mammals#food source soft mast fruit#butterfly friendly#ebh#ebh-fn
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Diospyros
    Species:
    virginiana
    Family:
    Ebenaceae
    Uses (Ethnobotany):
    The inner bark and unripe fruit has been used in the treatment of fevers, diarrhea, and hemorrhage, indelible ink made from fruit, flowers used for honey. The fruit was used for food and medicinal purposes by Native Americans. The heartwood is nearly black, extremely hard and is used to make golf club heads, billiard cues and shoe lasts.
    Life Cycle:
    Perennial
    Woody
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Grafting
    Root Cutting
    Seed
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Central and eastern North America
    Distribution:
    New England to Florida, west to Texas and Kansas.
    Fire Risk Rating:
    low flammability
    Wildlife Value:
    A larval host plant of the Luna moth. The fruit of the persimmon is a food source for birds, small mammals, white-tailed deer, foxes, raccoons, and black bears. Deer browse the leaves and twigs.
    Play Value:
    Edible fruit
    Fragrance
    Wildlife Food Source
    Particularly Resistant To (Insects/Diseases/Other Problems):
    Resistant to fire in landscape. This tree is moderately deer resistant.
    Edibility:
    The fruit is astringent when green, but sweet when soft and ripe and may be eaten raw. Used in syrups, jellies, ice cream and pies.
    Dimensions:
    Height: 30 ft. 0 in. - 80 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 20 ft. 0 in. - 35 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Edible
    Native Plant
    Tree
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Habit/Form:
    Columnar
    Oval
    Pyramidal
    Rounded
    Growth Rate:
    Slow
    Maintenance:
    Low
    Texture:
    Medium
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil Texture:
    Clay
    Loam (Silt)
    Sand
    Soil pH:
    Acid (<6.0)
    Alkaline (>8.0)
    Neutral (6.0-8.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Moist
    Occasionally Dry
    Available Space To Plant:
    24-60 feet
    more than 60 feet
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Mountains
    Piedmont
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    4a, 4b, 5b, 5a, 6b, 6a, 7b, 7a, 8a, 8b, 9b, 9a
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Orange
    Red/Burgundy
    Fruit Value To Gardener:
    Edible
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Fall
    Fruit Type:
    Berry
    Fruit Length:
    1-3 inches
    Fruit Width:
    1-3 inches
    Fruit Description:
    Edible, yellowish to orange fruit on female trees in fall. Globular berry, 1 to 1 ½ inch long, yellowish/peach/pale orange with a waxy bloom. Astringent unless overripe. Displays from September to December.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Green
    Orange
    White
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Cyme
    Insignificant
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Spring
    Summer
    Flower Shape:
    Bell
    Tubular
    Flower Petals:
    4-5 petals/rays
    fused petals
    Flower Size:
    < 1 inch
    Flower Description:
    Persimmons are usually dioecious (separate male and female trees), but some trees have perfect flowers. Fragrant, small, white to greenish-yellow flowers bloom in late spring, with the tubular male flowers appearing in 2 to 3 flower clusters and the female flower appearing solitary and bell or urn-shaped with 4 recurved petals. Blooms from May to June.
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Leaf Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Green
    Leaf Value To Gardener:
    Showy
    Deciduous Leaf Fall Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Purple/Lavender
    Red/Burgundy
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Alternate
    Leaf Shape:
    Elliptical
    Oblong
    Ovate
    Leaf Margin:
    Entire
    Serrate
    Hairs Present:
    Yes
    Leaf Length:
    3-6 inches
    Leaf Width:
    1-3 inches
    Leaf Description:
    Leaves are broadly oblong and pointed with smooth edges or some serration. They are 2 to 6 inches long and 2 to 3 inches wide with an acuminate apex and rounded base. The lower surface is usually lighter-colored and may have hairs, especially on young leaves. The fall color is yellow to reddish-purple. Leaves have a broad mid-rib with dark veins on the underside.
  • Bark:
    Bark Color:
    Dark Gray
    Surface/Attachment:
    Fissured
    Bark Plate Shape:
    Square
    Bark Description:
    It is one of the easiest trees to identify in winter because of its distinctive thick, dark grey bark that is divided by furrows into square blocks (cobbled).
  • Stem:
    Stem Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Gray/Silver
    Red/Burgundy
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Bud Scales:
    Enclosed in 2 scales
    Stem Form:
    Zig Zags
    Stem Surface:
    Hairy (pubescent)
    Stem Description:
    Stems are pubescent. Buds are single, sessile, 2 overlapping scales, 1/4" long, dark reddish - almost black, no terminal bud. Branchlets slender, zigzag, at first light reddish-brown and pubescent. They vary in color from light brown to ashy gray.
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Lawn
    Meadow
    Naturalized Area
    Recreational Play Area
    Woodland
    Landscape Theme:
    Butterfly Garden
    Children's Garden
    Edible Garden
    Native Garden
    Nighttime Garden
    Rain Garden
    Design Feature:
    Flowering Tree
    Specimen
    Street Tree
    Attracts:
    Bees
    Butterflies
    Moths
    Small Mammals
    Songbirds
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Deer
    Dry Soil
    Fire
    Poor Soil
    Wind