American Persimmon (Diospyros virginiana)

Common Name Latin Name Plant Family
American Persimmon
Diospyros virginiana

Can be used as a rootstock for D. kaki[46].

Wood – strong, hard, heavy, fine-grained, elastic, resistant to wear. A valuable wood, it is used for making wooden ware, turnery etc[46, 82, 149, 171]. It is used especially for making handles for golf clubs[149].

  • Medicinal Use

    A decoction of the boiled fruit was used to treat bloody stools[213]. (This probably refers to the unripe fruit, which is very astringent[K]).

    The leaves are rich in vitamin C and are used as an antiscorbutic[213].

    A decoction of the inner-bark is highly astringent[149, 222]. It has been used as a mouth rinse in the treatment of thrush and sore throats[213, 222]. Used externally as a wash for warts or cancers[222].

  • Edible Use

    Fruit – raw, cooked or dried and used in breads, cakes, pies, puddings etc[46, 183]. About the size of a plum, the fruit has an exquisitely rich flavour when it is fully ripe (and almost at the point of going bad) but it is very harsh and astringent before then[2, 3, 171, K]. The fruit may not ripen properly in a cool summer, though if it is frosted it normally develops a very good flavour[K]. The fruit can also be harvested in the autumn, preferably after a frost, and bletted. (This is a process where the fruit is kept in a cool place and only eaten when it is very soft and almost at the point of going rotten). Much of the fruit on trees in a relatively sunny position at Kew after a relatively warm summer in 1996 was still not fully ripe, though it was very nearly so and ripened well off the tree[K]. The fruit can also be dried and used in bread, cakes etc. The fruit is up to 4.5cm in diameter[200].

    Molasses can be made from the fruit pulp[183].

    An oil obtained from the seeds is said to taste like peanut oil[222].

    A tea is made from the dried leaves[102]. It is high in vitamin C and has a pleasant flavour somewhat like sassafras[21, 183].

    The roasted seed is used as a coffee substitute[177, 183].

  • Cautionary Notes

    None known

Cultivation & Habitat

Seed – best sown in a cold frame as soon as it is ripe[113, 200]. Stored seed requires cold-stratification and should be sown as early in the year as possible[78]. It usually germinates in 1 – 6 months at 15¡c[175]. Pot up the young seedlings as soon as they are large enough to handle into fairly deep pots and plant them out in early summer. Give the plants some protection from winter cold for their first winter or two outdoors. Cuttings of half-ripe wood, July/August in a frame[200]. Layering in spring[200].
Requires a good deep loamy soil in sun or light shade[200]. If being grown for its fruit, the tree requires a warm, sunny, sheltered position[K]. It dislikes very acid or wet and poorly drained soils[200]. Plants are somewhat tender when young[11], though dormant mature trees are hardy to about -35¡c[160]. The young growth in spring, even on mature plants, is frost-tender and so it is best to grow the plants in a position sheltered from the early morning sun[K]. Dioecious, but the female tree can produce seedless fruits in the absence of a pollinator[1]. It is likely that unfertilized fruits are more astringent than fertilized fruits since this is the case with D. kaki[K]. Trees can start producing fruit when only a few years old, a specimen seen at Kew Botanical gardens in autumn 1996 was only 1.5 metres tall and was bearing a very large crop of fruit[K]. This species is occasionally cultivated for its edible fruit, there are several named varieties[82, 183]. ‘Dooley’ grows well near the northern limits of persimmon culture[183]. ‘Geneva Red’ also grows well at the northern limits of persimmon culture. The fruit is medium to large[183]. ‘Meader’ grows well in cooler areas, it is self-fertile[183]. Plants have a long tap root and are difficult to transplant[149, 200], it is best to plant them out in their permanent position as soon as possible and to give protection overwinter for the first year or two[K]. The ssp. D. virginiana platycarpa has sweet succulent flesh, it grows wild from Missouri to Arkansas[82].
Eastern N. America – New England to Florida, west to Texas and Kansas.

Become ungovernable, break the chains of the matrix; grow and forage your own food and medicine.

*None of the information on this website qualifies as professional medical advice. Take only what resonates with your heart and use your own personal responsibility for what’s best for you. For more information [brackets] [000], see bibliography.