Persimmon
Diospyros virginiana L.

Persimmon: Full Size

Also known as Simmon or Possumwood.

Mature Size: 20 to 60 feet in height and 1 to 2 feet in diameter.

Form: Small to medium tree with a round-topped crown of crooked branches.

Habitat: Grows on a wide variety of sites, from sandy woods to moist river bottoms to rocky slopes.

Leaves

Persimmon: Leaves

Alternate, simple, oblong to oval, 2½ to 5 inches long, edges smooth, shiny green above and paler or whitish below.

Flowers

Persimmon: Flower

Males and females usually on separate trees; white to greenish-white, ½ inch long; male flowers in threes; females solitary and urn-shaped; both appearing in late spring and early summer.

Fruit

Persimmon: Fruit

Plum-like berry, at first green, turning orange to deep reddish-purple when ripe, ¾ to 2 inches in diameter, leaf-like bracts on top of fruit; containing several flattened, oblong, brown seeds about ½ inch long; fruit sweet and edible when ripe (after a hard freeze in fall), but very astringent when green.

Bark

Persimmon: Bark

When young, gray-brown with orange in fissures; later becoming much darker, breaking up into square scaly thick plates, resembling small charcoal briquettes.

Twigs

Slender, light brown to gray, may be rough or fuzzy; buds dark red to black, triangular, pressed close to stem; leaf scar has one crescent-shaped bundle scar.

Values and Uses

Persimmon heartwood is dark brown to black, and the sapwood is cream colored to light brown or gray. The wood is very hard and has been used for spindles, shuttles, golf club heads and other items that require shock-resistance. The fruit is eaten by humans, as well as by opossums, raccoons, skunks, foxes and many songbirds.

Did You Know?

Native Americans often dried persimmons like prunes and used them to make a tasty bread.