ABOUT JAPANESE PERSIMMONS: Diospyros kaki

EBENACEAE

Relatives: Sapote

Japanese Persimmons probably originated in China but are now mostly grown and commercially cultivated in Japan (hence the name). Unlike the smaller and mostly tart American Persimmon (D. virginiana) which you are probably familiar with, the Japanese varieties are quite large and can take up to ten years to fully mature.

DESCRIPTION

The Japanese persimmon is a single or multi stemmed tree, with rather smooth, gray colored bark.
Leaves: Deciduous, simple and alternate; when mature, quite large. Leaves can be fairly shinny in color.
Flowers: You probably won't even notice them as they are so inconspicuous.
Fruit: A rather large, chocolate brown to deep orange fruit, divided into two types: Astringent- which means for you not to even try to eat them until fully ripe, and Non-Astringent, which means you can eat them pretty much when you want to and right off the tree. The old timers used to say that Persimmons (D. virginaina) would not sweeten up enough to eat until after the first frost of autumn and that goes for the Japanese Persimmons as well. Firm persimmons actually keep quite well and can be picked green and allowed to ripen/mature off the tree. Bruised or otherwise damaged fruits do not keep at all.

CULTIVATION

Japanese Persimmons are very easy to grow and are especially well suited for the beginning small fruit gardener, so long as you can give them some shade to keep the sun off them until they get a few years old. They are most forgiving of soil types but not so tolerant of maritime conditions or very windy areas.
Location: Keep the young trees in some daytime shade, and expect the older trees to like the full sun. Seem to be pretty drought tolerant.
Temperature: Japanese Persimmons grow best in warm areas but can actually survive freezing temperatures, so long as are fully dormant.
Chilling: Chilling refers to the number of hours, 45 degrees F and under, during the dormancy period. All fruit and nut trees need a specific amount of chilling hours before they will produce fruit. The amount varies with each variety and the hours need not be continuous. For example as listed: (500 hours).
Soil/water/nutrients: Japanese Persimmons seem to grow and perform best in deep, well drained, loamy soils, although they are remarkably tolerant of even sandy and clay soils. They have an enormously long tap root so you don't have to worry about close in cultivation. Any balanced fertilizer such as 8-8-8 or 10-10-10 would probably be fine but only feed in the spring, not autumn.
Pruning: Not a big deal; keep up with dead or damaged limbs and remove them, else there is little need to prune a Japanese Persimmon unless it gets too big for you. Pests and diseases: Again, not a big deal. Some galls, some fruit flies and mites and maybe some thrips, all of which are easily controlled with a few chemicals. Birds and squirrels like the ripe fruits here at the Nursery, but the crops are so big and the fruits so large, there seems plenty to go around.

CULTIVARS

There are many very good Japanese Persimmon varieties around to chose from. Rabbit Ridge Nursery currently offers the following cultivars, which will do quite nicely in our area and are long lived and heavy producing fruit trees:

SO WHAT DO YOU DO WITH PERSIMMONS????

Many people seem a bit confused by persimmons. Do you cook them or eat them raw? Are they bitter or sweet? How do you eat them? It seems that whenever customers come to the Nursery, someone will invariable ask: "What do you do with them?" And everyone seems to have heard a story about some brave soul who tried one and was rewarded with a mouthful of astringent yuckiness.
All the Japanese Persimmons we sell at Rabbit Ridge Nursery are non - astringent, have a wonderful, sweet and gentle flavor, and can be grown in your garden here in North Carolina.
You can cook with them or eat them raw. They’re great all by themselves as a fruit snack, can be cooked into stews or pies, or included raw in salads. Although you can wait until your Japanese Persimmon gets soft before you eat them, I think they are best when firm and crisp. They are also quite pretty when sliced as their seed holes make a natural star pattern. Just make sure they’re not too light in color (and definitely not greenish) as they’re only sweet when ripe.

A word about Persimmon Pollination and Persimmon Root Stocks:

PC Means Pollination Constant; in other words, there is no change in the Persimmon flesh color after pollination.

PV Means Pollination Variant; flesh is light colored when seedless and turns a dark redddish brown when seeded out. However, when pollination is poor and only a few seeds are formed, dark areas will develop around the seeds themselves but the remaining flesh throughout the Persimmon remains light colored.

PV-NA Can be eaten 'Firm Ripe' if fully pollinized without being astringent but, if not fully pollinized, it should be eaten 'Soft Ripe'.

PV-A Can be eaten 'Soft Ripe'; Astringent

PC-NA Can be eaten 'Firm Ripe' right off the tree.

## means Lotus Persimmon Root Stock was used in graft

@@ means Kaki Persimmon Root Stock was used in graft


(Click on Persimmon Variety to link to that Persimmon)