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Overview

Brief Summary

Ebenaceae -- Ebony family

    Lowell K. Halls

    Common persimmon (Diospyros virginiana), also called  simmon, possumwood, and Florida persimmon, is a slow-growing tree  of moderate size found on a wide variety of soils and sites. Best  growth is in the bottom lands of the Mississippi River Valley.  The wood is close grained and sometimes used for special products  requiring hardness and strength. Persimmon is much better known  for its fruits, however. They are enjoyed by people as well as  many species of wildlife for food. The glossy leathery leaves  make the persimmon tree a nice one for landscaping, but it is not  easily transplanted because of the taproot.

  • Burns, Russell M., and Barbara H. Honkala, technical coordinators. 1990. Silvics of North America: 1. Conifers; 2. Hardwoods.   Agriculture Handbook 654 (Supersedes Agriculture Handbook 271,Silvics of Forest Trees of the United States, 1965).   U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Washington, DC. vol.2, 877 pp.   http://www.na.fs.fed.us/spfo/pubs/silvics_manual/table_of_contents.htm External link.
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Lowell K. Halls

Source: Silvics of North America

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Comprehensive Description

Diospyros virginiana L.

Distribution

Pine/scrub oak sandhills (PSOS-MT), mesic pine savannas (MPS-CP), wet pine flatwoods (WPF-T), wet pine savannas (SPS-T, SPS-RF, WLPS, VWLPS).

Notes

Frequent. May–Jun ; Sep–Dec . Thornhill 283, 709 (NCSC). Specimens seen in the vicinity: Sandy Run [Patterson]: Taggart SARU 213 (WNC!). [= RAB, FNA, Weakley]

  • Thornhill, Robert, Krings, Alexander, Lindbo, David, Stucky, Jon (2014): Guide to the Vascular Flora of the Savannas and Flatwoods of Shaken Creek Preserve and Vicinity (Pender & Onslow Counties, North Carolina, U. S. A.). Biodiversity Data Journal 2, 1099: 1099-1099, URL:http://dx.doi.org/10.3897/BDJ.2.e1099
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Plazi

Source: Plazi.org

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Comments

American Persimmon is the only member of the Ebony family in Illinois. Like ebony, its heartwood is nearly black. The fruits are edible to humans when they are fully ripe; they can be eaten fresh or used in puddings and cakes. The persimmon fruit that is occasionally found in grocery stores comes from another species, Diospyros kaki (Oriental Persimmon), which is native to China. Because of its distinctive trunk bark, flowers, and fruits, American Persimmon is an easy tree to identify. The rather ordinary-looking leaves can be confused with the leaves of other trees, particularly those lacking teeth along their leaf margins.
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© John Hilty

Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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Description

This medium-sized tree is typically 30-70' tall, consisting of an erect trunk about 1-2' across and an ovoid crown. On mature trees, the trunk bark is blackish gray and deeply furrowed into small flat-topped scales that are shaped like irregular squares or rectangles. The bark of branches is gray or brown and more smooth. Young leafy shoots are usually pubescent, rarely glabrous. The alternate leaves are 2½-6" long and 1-2" across; they are elliptic-oblong to ovate in shape and smooth along their margins. The upper surface of the leaf blades is medium to dark green and glabrous, while the lower surface is pale green and short-pubescent to nearly glabrous. The slender petioles are about ¼–1" long, light green, and short-pubescent to nearly glabrous. Leaf venation is pinnate. American Persimmon is dioecious, producing trees with either all male (staminate) flowers or all female (pistillate) flowers. Male flowers are arranged in small clusters of 2-3 on short branching stalks. Individual male flowers are about 1/3" (8 mm.) long, consisting of an urn-shaped corolla with 4 recurved lobes (rarely 5), a short calyx with 4 teeth, and up to 16 inserted stamens. Female flowers occur individually on very short stalks. Individual female flowers are about 2/3" long (16 mm.), consisting of an urn-shaped corolla with 4 recurved lobes (rarely 5), a calyx with 4 large teeth that are about 1/3" long (8 mm.), and a pistil with 4 inserted styles. For both male and female flowers, the corolla is usually white with yellow lobes, while the calyx is light green. The blooming period occurs from late spring to early summer. Fertile female flowers are replaced by fruits (large berries) about 1½-2" across. These fruits are globoid to subgloboid and glaucous; immature fruits are light green, while mature fruits are usually yellowish orange, orange, or reddish orange. Rarely, some trees produce dark purple to nearly black fruits (f. atra). Each fruit contains a fleshy pulp and 0-8 flattened seeds; it is very astringent while immature, but sweet-tasting when fully mature (resembling the flavor of dates). Fruits without seeds are produced parthenogenetically (without cross-fertilization from male trees); except for some cultivated varieties, such fruits are uncommon. The root system consists of a deep woody taproot.
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© John Hilty

Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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Description

General: Ebony family (Ebenaceae). Native trees growing 5-12 (-21) meters tall; mature bark dark-gray, thick and blocky. Leaves are deciduous, simple, alternate, ovate to elliptic or oblong with smooth edges, 3.5-8 cm long, with an acuminate apex and rounded base, the lower surface usually lighter-colored, especially on young leaves. Flowers are either male (staminate) or female (pistillate), borne on separate trees (the species dioecious) on shoots of the current year after leafing; pistillate flowers solitary, sessile or short-stalked, bell-shaped, ca. 2 cm long, the corolla creamy to greenish-yellow, fragrant, usually with 4 thick, recurved lobes; staminate flowers in 2-3-flowered clusters, tubular, 8-13 mm long, greenish-yellow. Fruit is a berry 2-5 cm wide, greenish to yellowish with highly astringent pulp before ripening, turning yellowish-orange to reddish-orange and sweet in the fall, each fruit with 1-8 flat seeds. The common name, persimmon, is the American Indian word for the fruit.

Variation within the species: variants have been described but are not generally formally recognized.

Var. pubescens (Pursh) Dipp. - Fuzzy persimmon

Var. platycarpa Sarg. - Oklahoma persimmon

Var. mosieri (Small) Sarg. - Florida persimmon

Distribution: Primarily a species of the east-central and southeastern U.S., with the southeast corner of its range in Texas, reaching northeast to New York and southern Connecticut, westward through southern Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois to Missouri and southeastern Kansas. It does not grow in the main range of the Appalachian Mountains nor in much of the oak-hickory forest of the Allegheny Plateau. For current distribution, please consult the Plant Profile page for this species on the PLANTS Web site.

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USDA NRCS National Plant Data Center & the Biota of North America Program

Source: USDA NRCS PLANTS Database

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Alternative names

Eastern persimmon, possumwood, American ebony, white ebony, bara-bara, boa-wood, butterwood

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USDA NRCS National Plant Data Center & the Biota of North America Program

Source: USDA NRCS PLANTS Database

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Distribution

Range and Habitat in Illinois

The native American Persimmon is occasional in southern Illinois, and uncommon or absent elsewhere in the state (see Distribution Map). Illinois lies along the northern range limit of this species. Habitats include upland woodlands, bottomland woodlands (above the flood zone), flatwoods, barren savannas (both sandy & non-sandy), sandstone and limestone glades, fallow fields, abandoned pastures, and fence rows. This tree is a pioneer species that invades relatively open areas where there is less competition. Ultimately, it is replaced by larger canopy trees. American Persimmon is sometimes cultivated for its fruit and ornamental appearance.
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© John Hilty

Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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National Distribution

United States

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

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© NatureServe

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Occurrence in North America

     AL  AR  CT  DE  FL  GA  IL  KS  KY  LA
     MD  MS  MO  NJ  NC  OH  OK  PA  SC  TN
     TX  VA  WV

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Common persimmon is distributed from southern Connecticut and Long
Island, New York to southern Florida.  Inland it occurs in central
Pennsylvania, southern Ohio, southern Indiana, and central Illinois to
southeastern Iowa; and southeastern Kansas and Oklahoma to the Valley of
the Colorado River in Texas.  It does not grow in the main range of the
Appalachian Mountains, nor in much of the oak-hickory forest type of the
Allegheny Plateau [8,12,15].
  • 12.  Gibson, David J.; Collins, Scott L.; Good, Ralph E. 1988. Ecosystem        fragmentation of oak-pine forest in the New Jersey pinelands. Forest        Ecology and Management. 25: 105-122.  [8635]
  • 15.  Halls, Lowell K. 1990. Diospyros virginiana L.  common persimmon. In:        Burns, Russell M.; Honkala, Barbara H., technical coordinators. Silvics        of North America. Vol. 2. Hardwoods. Agric. Handb. 654. Washington, DC:        U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: 294-298.  [18610]
  • 8.  Duncan, Wilbur H.; Duncan, Marion B. 1988. Trees of the southeastern        United States. Athens, GA: The University of Georgia Press. 322 p.        [12764]

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Common persimmon is found from southern Connecticut and Long  Island to southern Florida; westward through central  Pennsylvania, southern Ohio, southern Indiana, and central  Illinois to southeast Iowa; and south through eastern Kansas and  Oklahoma to the Valley of the Colorado River in Texas. It does  not grow, however, in the main range of the Appalachian  Mountains, nor in much of the oak-hickory forest type on the  Allegheny Plateau. Its best development is in the rich bottom  lands of the Mississippi River and its tributaries and in coastal  river valleys (9). It is exceedingly common in the South Atlantic  and Gulf States, often covering abandoned fields with a shrubby  growth, and springing up by the sides of roads and fences. It is  often the first tree species to start growth on abandoned and  denuded cropland. It is well adapted to an environment of high  insolation and low water supply.

   
  -The native range of common perssimon.


  • Burns, Russell M., and Barbara H. Honkala, technical coordinators. 1990. Silvics of North America: 1. Conifers; 2. Hardwoods.   Agriculture Handbook 654 (Supersedes Agriculture Handbook 271,Silvics of Forest Trees of the United States, 1965).   U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Washington, DC. vol.2, 877 pp.   http://www.na.fs.fed.us/spfo/pubs/silvics_manual/table_of_contents.htm External link.
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Lowell K. Halls

Source: Silvics of North America

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Adaptation

Common persimmon grows over a wide range of conditions from dry, sterile, sandy woodlands to river bottoms to rocky hillsides. Growth is best on terraces of large streams and river bottoms with clays and heavy loams; usual sites in the Mississippi Delta are wet flats, shallow sloughs, and swamp margins. It thrives in full sun but also is shade-tolerant and can persist in the understory. It is an early pioneer on abandoned and denuded cropland and is common on roadsides and fencerows. Common persimmon often is seen as thickets (derived from root suckers) in open fields and pastures. This species flowers in March-June and fruits in September-November.

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USDA NRCS National Plant Data Center & the Biota of North America Program

Source: USDA NRCS PLANTS Database

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Physical Description

Morphology

Description

More info for the terms: dioecious, tree

Common persimmon is a slow-growing, thicket-forming, dioecious,
deciduous tree up to 70 feet (21 m) but generally less than 40 feet (12
m) tall [8].  It has a rounded or conical crown with the branches
spreading at right angles.  The twigs are self-pruning and form an
irregular shaped crown.  The leaves are simple, alternate, entire, and
elliptical to oblong.  The fruit is a persistent spherical berry; each
berry contains one to eight flat seeds [10,13,31].
  • 10.  Fernald, Merritt Lyndon. 1950. Gray's manual of botany. [Corrections        supplied by R. C. Rollins]
  • 13.  Godfrey, Robert K. 1988. Trees, shrubs, and woody vines of northern        Florida and adjacent Georgia and Alabama. Athens, GA: The University of        Georgia Press. 734 p.  [10239]
  • 31.  Radford, Albert E.; Ahles, Harry E.; Bell, C. Ritchie. 1968. Manual of        the vascular flora of the Carolinas. Chapel Hill, NC: The University of        North Carolina Press. 1183 p.  [7606]
  • 8.  Duncan, Wilbur H.; Duncan, Marion B. 1988. Trees of the southeastern        United States. Athens, GA: The University of Georgia Press. 322 p.        [12764]

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Ecology

Habitat

Range and Habitat in Illinois

The native American Persimmon is occasional in southern Illinois, and uncommon or absent elsewhere in the state (see Distribution Map). Illinois lies along the northern range limit of this species. Habitats include upland woodlands, bottomland woodlands (above the flood zone), flatwoods, barren savannas (both sandy & non-sandy), sandstone and limestone glades, fallow fields, abandoned pastures, and fence rows. This tree is a pioneer species that invades relatively open areas where there is less competition. Ultimately, it is replaced by larger canopy trees. American Persimmon is sometimes cultivated for its fruit and ornamental appearance.
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© John Hilty

Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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Habitat characteristics

More info for the terms: shrubs, swamp

Common persimmon grows on a wide variety of sites but grows best on
terraces of large streams and river bottoms.  It grows best on alluvial
soils such as clays and heavy loams.  In the Mississippi Delta, usual
sites are wet flats, shallow sloughs, and swamp margins.  In the Midwest
it grows on poorly drained upland sites, but growth there is very slow
[6,17,20,23].

Common overstory associates not listed under Distribution and Occurrence
include eastern redcedar (Juniperus virginiana), sugar maple (Acer
saccharum), yellow-poplar (Liriodendron tulipifera),, boxelder (Acer
negundo), red maple (A. rubrum), sycamore (Platanus occidentalis), and
cedar elm (Ulmus crassifolia).  Common shrubs and noncommercial tree
associates include swamp-privet (Forestiera acuminata), rough-leaf
dogwood (Cornus drummondii), hawthorns (Crataegus spp.), water-elm
(Planera acquatica), shining sumac (Rhus copallina), and smooth sumac
(R. glabra) [6,15,26].
  • 15.  Halls, Lowell K. 1990. Diospyros virginiana L.  common persimmon. In:        Burns, Russell M.; Honkala, Barbara H., technical coordinators. Silvics        of North America. Vol. 2. Hardwoods. Agric. Handb. 654. Washington, DC:        U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: 294-298.  [18610]
  • 17.  Hodges, John D.; Switzer, George L. 1979. Some aspects of the ecology of        southern bottomland hardwoods. In: North America's forests: gateway to        opportunity: Proceedings, 1978 joint convention of the Society of        American Foresters and the Canadian Institute of Forestry. Washington,        DC: Society of American Foresters: 360-365.  [10028]
  • 20.  Kucera, C. L.; Martin, S. Clark. 1957. Vegetation and soil relationships        in the glade region of the southwestern Missouri Ozarks. Ecology. 38:        285-291.  [11126]
  • 23.  Lawson, Edwin R. 1990. Juniperus virginiana L.  eastern redcedar. In:        Burns, Russell M.; Honkala, Barbara H., technical coordinators. Silvics        of North America. Volume 1. Conifers. Agric. Handb. 654. Washington, DC:        U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: 131-140.  [13378]
  • 26.  McLemore, B. F. 1990. Cornus florida L.  flowering dogwood. In: Burns,        Russell M.; Honkala, Barbara H., technical coordinators. Silvics of        North America. Vol. 2. Hardwoods. Agric. Handb. 654. Washington, DC:        U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: 278-283.  [13963]
  • 6.  Christensen, Norman L. 1988. Vegetation of the southeastern Coastal        Plain. In: Barbour, Michael G.; Billings, William Dwight, eds. North        American terrestrial vegetation. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press:        317-363.  [17414]

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Key Plant Community Associations

Common persimmon is found in many plant associations, but it is not an
indicator of any particular habitat [6,33].
  • 33.  Smalley, Glendon W. 1984. Classification and evaluation of forest sites        in the Cumberland Mountains. Gen. Tech. Rep. SO-50. New Orleans, LA:        U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Southern Forest        Experiment Station. 84 p.  [9831]
  • 6.  Christensen, Norman L. 1988. Vegetation of the southeastern Coastal        Plain. In: Barbour, Michael G.; Billings, William Dwight, eds. North        American terrestrial vegetation. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press:        317-363.  [17414]

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Habitat: Cover Types

More info on this topic.

This species is known to occur in association with the following cover types (as classified by the Society of American Foresters):

    64  Sassafras - persimmon
    70  Longleaf pine
    72  Southern scrub oak
    80  Loblolly pine - shortleaf pine
    81  Loblolly pine
    82  Loblolly pine - hardwood
    83  Longleaf pine - slash pine
    84  Slash pine
    92  Sweetgum - willow oak
    93  Sugarberry - American elm - green ash
    96  Overcup oak - water hickory
   101  Baldcypress
   102  Baldscypress - tupelo

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Habitat: Ecosystem

More info on this topic.

This species is known to occur in the following ecosystem types (as named by the U.S. Forest Service in their Forest and Range Ecosystem [FRES] Type classification):

   FRES12  Longleaf - slash pine
   FRES13  Loblolly - shortleaf pine
   FRES14  Oak - pine
   FRES15  Oak - hickory
   FRES16  Oak - gum - cypress

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Habitat: Plant Associations

More info on this topic.

This species is known to occur in association with the following plant community types (as classified by Küchler 1964):

   KO89  Black Belt
   K090  Live oak - sea oats
   K100  Oak - hickory forest
   K104  Appalachian oak forest
   K111  Oak - hickory - pine forest
   K112  Southern mixed forest
   K113  Southern floodplain forest

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Soils and Topography

Common persimmon grows in a tremendous range of conditions from  very dry, sterile, sandy woodlands to river bottoms to rocky  hillsides and moist or very dry locations. It thrives on almost  any type of soil but is most frequently found growing on soils of  the orders Alfisols, Ultisols, Entisols, and Inceptisols.

  • Burns, Russell M., and Barbara H. Honkala, technical coordinators. 1990. Silvics of North America: 1. Conifers; 2. Hardwoods.   Agriculture Handbook 654 (Supersedes Agriculture Handbook 271,Silvics of Forest Trees of the United States, 1965).   U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Washington, DC. vol.2, 877 pp.   http://www.na.fs.fed.us/spfo/pubs/silvics_manual/table_of_contents.htm External link.
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Lowell K. Halls

Source: Silvics of North America

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Climate

Common persimmon grows in a humid climate throughout its range.  Its best commercial development is in areas that receive an  average of 1220 mm (48 in) of precipitation annually, about 460  mm (18 in) of which normally occurs duping the growing season.  Over the range of persimmon, the average maximum temperatures are  35° C (95° F) in the summer and -12° C (10°  F) in the winter.

  • Burns, Russell M., and Barbara H. Honkala, technical coordinators. 1990. Silvics of North America: 1. Conifers; 2. Hardwoods.   Agriculture Handbook 654 (Supersedes Agriculture Handbook 271,Silvics of Forest Trees of the United States, 1965).   U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Washington, DC. vol.2, 877 pp.   http://www.na.fs.fed.us/spfo/pubs/silvics_manual/table_of_contents.htm External link.
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Lowell K. Halls

Source: Silvics of North America

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Dispersal

Establishment

Fruit may be produced by 10-year-old trees but optimum fruit-bearing age is 25-50 years. Good fruit crops are borne every 2 years. Seeds are dispersed by birds and animals and by overflow water in bottomlands. Persimmon is slow growing and usually does not make a large tree, although it may reach 21-24 meters tall on optimal sites. Trees have been reported to reach 150 years of age.

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USDA NRCS National Plant Data Center & the Biota of North America Program

Source: USDA NRCS PLANTS Database

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Associations

Faunal Associations

According to Charles Robertson (1929), the flowers are cross-pollinated by long-tongued bees seeking nectar and pollen. Such floral visitors include honeybees, bumblebees, little carpenter bees (Ceratina spp.), digger bees (Anthophora spp., Synhalonia spp.), mason bees (Osmia spp.), leaf-cutting bees (Megachile spp.), and cuckoo bees (Nomada spp.). Small Halictid bees and Syrphid flies may visit the flowers for pollen, but they are regarded as less effective at pollination. Some insects feed on the foliage, wood, and other parts of American Persimmon. These insect feeders include the larvae of long-horned beetles (Oncideres cingulata, Sternidius punctatus), the larvae of Agrilus fuscipennis (Persimmon Agrilus), the larvae of Xylobiops basilaris (Red-Shouldered Bostrichid Beetle), some leaf beetles (Anomoea laticlavia, Colaspis favosa, Cryptocephalus guttulatus), the leafhopper Erythridula cuneata, and the caterpillars of several moths (see Moth Table). Vertebrate animals consume primarily the fruit of this tree, and play an important role in distributing its seeds to new locations. Mammalian fruit-eaters include the Raccoon, Opossum, Red Fox, Gray Fox, and White-Tailed Deer. Among birds, the fruit is eaten by the Wild Turkey, Bobwhite, Catbird, Cedar Waxwing, Starling, Northern Mockingbird, and Pileated Woodpecker. White-Tailed Deer also browse on the foliage and twigs of this tree. Photographic Location
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© John Hilty

Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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Flower-Visiting Insects of Persimmon in Illinois

Diospyros virginiana (Persimmon)
(on staminate flowers, bees suck nectar or collect pollen, flies feed on pollen, and other insects suck nectar; on pistillate flowers, all insects suck nectar; only long-tongued bees are effective pollinators; observations are from Robertson)

On staminate flowers:

Bees (long-tongued)
Apidae (Apinae): Apis mellifera sn cp fq; Apidae (Bombini): Bombus griseocallis sn cp, Bombus impatiens sn cp, Bombus pensylvanica sn; Anthophoridae (Anthophorini): Anthophora abrupta sn cp fq; Anthophoridae (Ceratinini): Ceratina dupla dupla sn cp np; Anthophoridae (Eucerini): Synhalonia rosae sn cp fq; Anthophoridae (Nomadini): Nomada affabilis sn; Megachilidae (Megachilini): Megachile mendica sn; Megachilidae (Osmiini): Osmia pumila sn

Bees (short-tongued)
Halictidae (Halictinae): Agapostemon sericea sn cp np, Agapostemon virescens sn cp np, Augochlorella aurata cp np, Augochlorella striata sn cp np, Augochloropsis metallica metallica sn cp np, Lasioglossum coriaceus sn cp np, Lasioglossum forbesii cp np, Lasioglossum fuscipennis sn cp np fq, Lasioglossum imitatus cp np, Lasioglossum versatus cp np, Lasioglossum zephyrus cp np

Flies
Syrphidae: Allograpta obliqua fp np, Eupeodes americanus fp np, Syrphus ribesii fp np

Skippers
Hesperiidae: Pompeius verna sn np

On pistillate flowers:

Bees (long-tongued)
Apidae (Apinae): Apis mellifera fq; Apidae (Bombini): Bombus auricomus, Bombus pensylvanica; Anthophoridae (Anthophorini): Anthophora abrupta fq; Anthophoridae (Eucerini): Synhalonia rosae fq; Megachilidae (Megachilini): Megachile mendica; Megachilidae (Osmiini): Osmia pumila

Bees (short-tongued)
Halictidae (Halictinae): Agapostemon virescens np, Augochlora purus np, Augochlorella striata np

Skippers
Hesperiidae: Polites origenes np, Pompeius verna np

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Associated Forest Cover

Common persimmon is a key species in the forest cover type  Sassafras-Persimmon (Society of American Foresters Type 64) (3)  and is an associated species in the following cover types:  Southern Scrub Oak (Type 72), Loblolly Pine-Shortleaf Pine (Type  80), Loblolly Pine-Hardwood (Type 82), Sweetgum-Willow Oak (Type  92), Sugarberry-American Elm-Green Ash (Type 93), Overcup  Oak-Water Hickory (Type 96), Baldcypress (Type 101), and  Baldcypress-Tupelo (Type 102).

    Common associates are elms (Ulmus spp.), eastern redcedar  (Juniperus virginiana), hickories (Carya spp.),  sugar maple (Acer saccharum), yellow-poplar (Liriodendron  tulipifera), oaks Quercus spp.), boxelder (Acer  negundo), red maple (A. rubrum), sycamore (Platanus  occidentalis), and cedar elm (Ulmus crassifolia).

    Common shrub and noncommercial tree associates include  swamp-privet (Forestiera acuminata), roughleaf dogwood  (Cornus drummondii), hawthorns (Crataegus spp.), water-elm  (Planera aquatica), shining sumac (Rhus copallina),  and smooth sumac (R. glabra).

    In the alluvial bottoms of the Lower Wabash Valley, waterlocust  (Gleditsia aquatica) and common buttonbush (Cephalanthus  occidentalis) are close associates.

    The Sassafras-Persimmon type is temporary and usually replaced  with mixed hardwood types.

  • Burns, Russell M., and Barbara H. Honkala, technical coordinators. 1990. Silvics of North America: 1. Conifers; 2. Hardwoods.   Agriculture Handbook 654 (Supersedes Agriculture Handbook 271,Silvics of Forest Trees of the United States, 1965).   U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Washington, DC. vol.2, 877 pp.   http://www.na.fs.fed.us/spfo/pubs/silvics_manual/table_of_contents.htm External link.
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Lowell K. Halls

Source: Silvics of North America

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Diseases and Parasites

Damaging Agents

A number of insects attack persimmon but  normally do no serious harm (9). A bark and phloem borer (Agrilus  fuscipennis) infests living persimmon and the persimmon borer  (Sannina uroceriformis) tunnels in the stems and taproots  of young trees and damages nursery stock. Caterpillars may  defoliate the trees in early summer and into mid summer. The  principal defoliators are a webworm (Seiarctica echo) and  the hickory horned devil (Citheronia regalis). Unless  sprayed, they may defoliate and severely damage a young plant. No  serious damage to the merchantable part of living trees is  recorded. The twig girdler (Oncideres cingulata) retards  growth by cutting off smaller branches. The wood of dying and  dead trees is often riddled by the false powderpost beetle (Xylobiops  basilaris).

    Cephalosporium diospyri causes persimmon wilt, a fungus  disease that kills many trees in central Tennessee and the  Southeastern States (1). The disease is characterized by a sudden  wilting of the leaves, followed by defoliation and death of the  branches from the top down. An infected tree often lives 1 or 2  years after this symptom appears. Diseased trees should be  burned, and cuts and bruises on other trees should be painted to  prevent entry by wind-borne spores. No disease-resistant trees  have been found. A wound is necessary for primary infection. The  hickory twig girdler and powderpost beetle cause the majority of  wounds in healthy trees. As soon as the tree dies, the fungus  produces spores in large quantities between the bark and the wood  near the base of the tree.

    Because common persimmon is often considered noxious in pastures  and fields, much effort has been expended in its control and  eradication (2). It is easily defoliated with 2,4,5-T at 1.1  kg/ha (1 lb/acre) or less but sprouts readily from both stem and  roots after treatment. Treatment is most effective in May when  leaves are fully expanded. Additives (Ethephon, MAA, and TIBA)  increase both the defoliation and kill of persimmon. Surfactants  increase effectiveness of 2,4,5-T. Picloram in combination with  2,4,5-T, and dicamba, alone and in combination with 2,4,5-T, has  also given good control. Soil application of picloram and dicamba  at 6.7 kg/ha (6 lb/acre) gave kills of 75 and 70 percent,  respectively. Complete top kill was possible by injecting  undiluted solutions of dicamba or mixtures of 2,4,5-T and  dicamba.

    Tordon 101 or Esteron 99 at 7.6 liters (2 gal) plus triclopyr at  9.4 liters/ha (1 gal/acre) and Tordon at 37 liters/ha (4  gal/acre) gave 100 percent control of persimmon (4).

    Undiluted 2,4-D dimethylamine killed persimmon when applied in 1-  or 2-ml (0.03- or 0.07-oz) dosages in injections placed  edge-to-edge up to 23 cm (9 in) apart around the stem (11). A  4-to-1 mixture of triisoproponolamine salts of 2,4-D plus  picloram was also effective.

  • Burns, Russell M., and Barbara H. Honkala, technical coordinators. 1990. Silvics of North America: 1. Conifers; 2. Hardwoods.   Agriculture Handbook 654 (Supersedes Agriculture Handbook 271,Silvics of Forest Trees of the United States, 1965).   U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Washington, DC. vol.2, 877 pp.   http://www.na.fs.fed.us/spfo/pubs/silvics_manual/table_of_contents.htm External link.
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Lowell K. Halls

Source: Silvics of North America

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General Ecology

Fire Management Considerations

More info for the term: fire exclusion

Periodic fires have been useful in controlling common persimmon by
preventing it from reaching the overstory in southern pine forests.
However, common persimmon is known to decrease with fire exclusion [18].
  • 18.  Hodgkins, Earl J. 1958. Effects of fire on undergrowth vegetation in        upland southern pine forests. Ecology. 39(1): 36-46.  [7632]

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Plant Response to Fire

More info for the term: density

Common persimmon sprouts vigorously following fire [15].  After a summer
and winter burn in Oklahoma, common persimmon stem density increases in
postfire year 1 were as follows [1]:

          Species density (stem/ha)

summer burn                     late-winter burn

preburn   postburn              preburn    postburn
  542       750                   17         583
  • 1.  Adams, Dwight E.; Anderson, Roger C.; Collins, Scott L. 1982.        Differential response of woody and herbaceous species to summer and        winter burning in an Oklahoma grassland. Southwestern Naturalist. 27:        55-61.  [6282]
  • 15.  Halls, Lowell K. 1990. Diospyros virginiana L.  common persimmon. In:        Burns, Russell M.; Honkala, Barbara H., technical coordinators. Silvics        of North America. Vol. 2. Hardwoods. Agric. Handb. 654. Washington, DC:        U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: 294-298.  [18610]

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Immediate Effect of Fire

Common persimmon in southern pine forests can be killed by severe fires
that char the soil and kill the roots and rootstocks.  Less severe fires
top-kill the plant [18].
  • 18.  Hodgkins, Earl J. 1958. Effects of fire on undergrowth vegetation in        upland southern pine forests. Ecology. 39(1): 36-46.  [7632]

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Post-fire Regeneration

More info for the terms: soboliferous, tree

   Tree with adventitious-bud rootcrown/ soboliferous species root sucker
   Initial-offsite colonizer (offsite, initial community)

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Fire Ecology

More info for the term: root crown

Common persimmon is well adapted to fire.  It sprouts readily from the
roots and root crown when aboveground portions are killed by fire
[2,14,15].
  • 14.  Grelen, Harold E. 1962. Plant succession on cleared sandhills in        northwest Florida. American Midland Naturalist. 67(1): 36-44.  [12020]
  • 15.  Halls, Lowell K. 1990. Diospyros virginiana L.  common persimmon. In:        Burns, Russell M.; Honkala, Barbara H., technical coordinators. Silvics        of North America. Vol. 2. Hardwoods. Agric. Handb. 654. Washington, DC:        U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: 294-298.  [18610]
  • 2.  Arner, Dale H. 1981. Prescribed burning in utility rights-of-way        management. In: Wood, Gene W., ed. Prescribed fire and wildlife in        southern forests: Proceedings of a symposium; 1981 April 6-8; Myrtle        Beach, SC. Georgetown, SC: Clemson University, Belle W. Baruch Forest        Science Institute: 163-166.  [14823]

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Regeneration Processes

More info for the term: root collar

Common persimmon reproduces vegetatively and by seed.  The optimum
fruit-bearing age is 25 to 50 years, but 10-year-old trees sometimes
bear fruit.  Good seed crops are borne every 2 years, with light crops
in intervening years [28,30].  The seed is disseminated by birds and
animals that feed on the fruits, and to some extent, by overflow water
in low bottomlands [15].

Vegetative Reproduction:  Common persimmon will sprout from the stump or
develop from root suckers.  Sprouting from the root collar is common
after fire or cutting [36].
  • 15.  Halls, Lowell K. 1990. Diospyros virginiana L.  common persimmon. In:        Burns, Russell M.; Honkala, Barbara H., technical coordinators. Silvics        of North America. Vol. 2. Hardwoods. Agric. Handb. 654. Washington, DC:        U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: 294-298.  [18610]
  • 28.  Newling, Charles J. 1990. Restoration of bottomland hardwood forests in        the lower Mississippi Valley. Restoration & Management Notes. 8(1):        23-28.  [14611]
  • 30.  Olson, David F., Jr.; Barnes, R. L. 1974. Diospyros virginiana L. common        persimmon. In: Schopmeyer, C. S., technical coordinator. Seeds of woody        plants in the United States. Agric. Handb. 450. Washington, DC: U.S.        Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: 373-375.  [7602]
  • 36.  Vines, Robert A. 1960. Trees, shrubs, and woody vines of the Southwest.        Austin, TX: University of Texas Press. 1104 p.  [7707]

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Growth Form (according to Raunkiær Life-form classification)

More info on this topic.

More info for the term: phanerophyte

  
Phanerophyte

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Life Form

More info for the term: tree

Tree

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Successional Status

More info on this topic.

Obligate Initial Community Species.

Common persimmon is very tolerant of shade.  It can persist in the
understory for many years.  Its response to release is not definitely
known but probably not very good.  Common persimmon competes very well
with almost any plant under harsh conditions.

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Reaction to Competition

Persimmon is classed as very  tolerant of shade. It can persist in the understory for many  years (9). Its response to release is not definitely known but is  probably not especially good. Persimmon competes with almost any  plant under harsh growing conditions.

  • Burns, Russell M., and Barbara H. Honkala, technical coordinators. 1990. Silvics of North America: 1. Conifers; 2. Hardwoods.   Agriculture Handbook 654 (Supersedes Agriculture Handbook 271,Silvics of Forest Trees of the United States, 1965).   U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Washington, DC. vol.2, 877 pp.   http://www.na.fs.fed.us/spfo/pubs/silvics_manual/table_of_contents.htm External link.
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Lowell K. Halls

Source: Silvics of North America

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Rooting Habit

No information available.

  • Burns, Russell M., and Barbara H. Honkala, technical coordinators. 1990. Silvics of North America: 1. Conifers; 2. Hardwoods.   Agriculture Handbook 654 (Supersedes Agriculture Handbook 271,Silvics of Forest Trees of the United States, 1965).   U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Washington, DC. vol.2, 877 pp.   http://www.na.fs.fed.us/spfo/pubs/silvics_manual/table_of_contents.htm External link.
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Lowell K. Halls

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Life History and Behavior

Cyclicity

Phenology

More info on this topic.

The flowers of common persimmon bloom from March to June; its fruit
ripens from September to November [30].
  • 30.  Olson, David F., Jr.; Barnes, R. L. 1974. Diospyros virginiana L. common        persimmon. In: Schopmeyer, C. S., technical coordinator. Seeds of woody        plants in the United States. Agric. Handb. 450. Washington, DC: U.S.        Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: 373-375.  [7602]

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Reproduction

Vegetative Reproduction

Persimmon may be propagated by  root cuttings and grafting (10). Root cuttings 15 to 20 cm (6 to  8 in) long and 8 mm (0.3 in) in diameter can be used provided the  ends are sealed with pitch or wax to prevent rot. Older twigs may  be used similarly. They can be buried in sand until ready to  plant (15).

    Trees may be grafted by chip budding, cleft grafting, or whip  grafting. Nursery stock should be set about 15 cm (6 in) apart  and root pruned each year. Stock 1 to 2 years old may be  transplanted, but this should be done in moist deep soil because  of the deep root system (15).

    Stumps sprout readily and thickets of shrubby persimmon develop  from root suckers. Sprouting from the root collar after fires is  common. Seedlings or suckers are difficult to transplant.

  • Burns, Russell M., and Barbara H. Honkala, technical coordinators. 1990. Silvics of North America: 1. Conifers; 2. Hardwoods.   Agriculture Handbook 654 (Supersedes Agriculture Handbook 271,Silvics of Forest Trees of the United States, 1965).   U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Washington, DC. vol.2, 877 pp.   http://www.na.fs.fed.us/spfo/pubs/silvics_manual/table_of_contents.htm External link.
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Seedling Development

Persimmon is very tolerant, and  natural reproduction can normally be expected in the forest  understory. It is often prolific in openings. Germination is  epigeal. The seedlings develop a strong taproot and after their  first year are about 20 cm (8 in) tall or even taller on good  sites. Prolonged flooding or submergence during the growing  season will kill young trees; however, seedlings usually survive  under very adverse conditions.

  • Burns, Russell M., and Barbara H. Honkala, technical coordinators. 1990. Silvics of North America: 1. Conifers; 2. Hardwoods.   Agriculture Handbook 654 (Supersedes Agriculture Handbook 271,Silvics of Forest Trees of the United States, 1965).   U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Washington, DC. vol.2, 877 pp.   http://www.na.fs.fed.us/spfo/pubs/silvics_manual/table_of_contents.htm External link.
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Flowering, Seed Production, and Dissemination

The  inconspicuous flowers bloom from March to June within its  botanical range and from April through May in areas where it  grows best. Staminate flowers are in two- or three-flowered  cymes, tubular, 8 to 13 mm (0.3 to 0.5 in) long, and greenish  yellow.

    Pistillate flowers are solitary, sessile or shortpeduncled, about  1.9 cm (0.75 in) long. The corolla is fragrant with 4 or 5  greenish yellow, thick recurved lobes.

    Common persimmon is dioecious; the staminate and pistillate  flowers are borne on separate trees on shoots of the current  year, when the leaves are more than half grown.

    The fruit is a persistent spherical berry 1.9 to 5.1 cm (0.8 to  2.0 in) in diameter. It ripens from September to November or  occasionally a little earlier. When mature it is yellow to orange  or dark red in color, often with a glaucous bloom. Each berry  usually contains one to eight flat, brown seeds about 13 mm (0.5  in) long but is sometimes seedless. Fruits fall from September to  late winter.

    The optimum fruit-bearing age is 25 to 50 years, but 10-year-old  trees sometimes bear fruit. Good crops are borne about every 2  years under normal conditions. About 45 kg (100 lb) of fruit  yields 4.5 to 13.6 kg (10 to 30 lb) of clean seed, with an  average of 2,640 seeds per kg (1,200 seeds per lb). The seed is  disseminated by birds and animals that feed on the fruits, and,  to some extent, by overflow water in low bottom lands (9). The  seeds remain dormant during winter and germinate in April or May,  after about a month of soil temperatures above 15° C (60°  F).

    Persimmon is easily raised from seed, and if planting is to be  done with seeds, they should be cleaned and spread out for drying  for a day or two and then stratified under moist conditions for 2  to 3 months at 1° to 4° C (33° to 40° F).  They should be soaked 2 to 3 days before planting. Seeds lose  their viability through extremes of heat, cold, or drying. They  should be planted in spring or fall in shallow drills in light  soils with plenty of humus and covered to a depth of about 13 min  (0.5 in).

    No insects or animals are known to damage flowers or fruit  seriously. Late freeze can damage the flowers and cause premature  fruit drop.

  • Burns, Russell M., and Barbara H. Honkala, technical coordinators. 1990. Silvics of North America: 1. Conifers; 2. Hardwoods.   Agriculture Handbook 654 (Supersedes Agriculture Handbook 271,Silvics of Forest Trees of the United States, 1965).   U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Washington, DC. vol.2, 877 pp.   http://www.na.fs.fed.us/spfo/pubs/silvics_manual/table_of_contents.htm External link.
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Growth

Growth and Yield

The growth rate of persimmon is  generally slow (9). On dry, old-field sites it frequently makes  only a shrubby growth 4.6 to 6.1 m (15 to 20 ft) tall. On poor  sites the larger trees contain a high percentage of heartwood  that cannot be used for lumber because it checks excessively  during seasoning.

    Approximately 50 percent of the total radial growth is complete in  70 to 90 days, and 90 percent complete in 100 to 109 days after  growth starts in the spring (6). Persimmon responds well to  fertilizer.

    The species normally attains a height of 9 to 18 m (30 to 60 ft)  at maturity but in optimum habitats may reach a height of 21 to  24 rn (70 to 80 ft) and a diameter of 51 to 61 cm (20 to 24 in).  It usually forms an upright or drooping type tree with a rounded  or conical crown. Stems may be clumped, either because seedlings  develop in close proximity to one another or because they arise  from suckers after a tree has been cut down. The leaves are  deciduous, simple, alternate, and entire. The bark is brown to  black, fissures are deep, and ridges are broken into rectangular  checkered sections.

    Per acre volume figures for this species are not available because  it usually grows as scattered individuals.

    Tops of orchard grown trees should be thinned to allow for better  fruit production.

  • Burns, Russell M., and Barbara H. Honkala, technical coordinators. 1990. Silvics of North America: 1. Conifers; 2. Hardwoods.   Agriculture Handbook 654 (Supersedes Agriculture Handbook 271,Silvics of Forest Trees of the United States, 1965).   U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Washington, DC. vol.2, 877 pp.   http://www.na.fs.fed.us/spfo/pubs/silvics_manual/table_of_contents.htm External link.
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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Genetics

Varieties of the common persimmon are the fuzzy common persimmon  (D. virginiana var. pubescens (Pursh)  Dipp.); Oklahoma common persimmon (D. uirginiana var.  platycarpa Sarg.); and Florida persimmon (D. uirginiana  var. mosieri (Small) Sarg.) (7).

    Hybrids have been reported between D. uirginiana, D. kaki,  and D. lotus (14).

    Several cultivars, selected primarily for fruit color, taste,  size, and early maturation, have been chosen from wild  populations (8).

  • Burns, Russell M., and Barbara H. Honkala, technical coordinators. 1990. Silvics of North America: 1. Conifers; 2. Hardwoods.   Agriculture Handbook 654 (Supersedes Agriculture Handbook 271,Silvics of Forest Trees of the United States, 1965).   U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Washington, DC. vol.2, 877 pp.   http://www.na.fs.fed.us/spfo/pubs/silvics_manual/table_of_contents.htm External link.
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Molecular Biology

Barcode data: Diospyros virginiana

The following is a representative barcode sequence, the centroid of all available sequences for this species.


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Statistics of barcoding coverage: Diospyros virginiana

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 6
Specimens with Barcodes: 6
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Conservation Status

National NatureServe Conservation Status

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: N5 - Secure

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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: G5 - Secure

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Status

Please consult the PLANTS Web site and your State Department of Natural Resources for this plant’s current status, such as, state noxious status and wetland indicator values.

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USDA NRCS National Plant Data Center & the Biota of North America Program

Source: USDA NRCS PLANTS Database

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Management

Management considerations

More info for the term: tree

Dense thickets of common persimmon are considered a nuisance in open
fields and pastures.  On abandoned fields, where persimmon is an
invader, it is classed as a weed species because it fails to reach
commercial size [5].  Common persimmon is easily defoliated with a 20
percent solution of Garlon 4 but will sprout readily from the stems and
roots after treatment.  Treatment is most effective in May when leaves
are fully expanded [4,19,27].

Damaging agents:  The principal defoliators of common persimmom are the
webworm (Seiarctica echo) and the hickory horned devil (Citheronia
regalis).  The fungus Cephalosporium diospyri causes persimmon wilt and
kills many trees in the Southeast.  The disease is characterized by a
wilting of the leaves followed by defoliation and death of the branches
from the top down.  An infected tree lives 1 or 2 years after the
wilting appears.  Diseased trees should be burned, and bruises on
healthy tree should be covered with pitch or wax to prevent entry by
wind-borne spores [15,30].
  • 15.  Halls, Lowell K. 1990. Diospyros virginiana L.  common persimmon. In:        Burns, Russell M.; Honkala, Barbara H., technical coordinators. Silvics        of North America. Vol. 2. Hardwoods. Agric. Handb. 654. Washington, DC:        U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: 294-298.  [18610]
  • 19.  Hopper, George; Houston, Allan; Buckner, Edward. 1991. Natural hardwood        regeneration 6 years after clearcutting as influenced by herbicide        injection and scalping. In: Coleman, Sandra S.; Neary, Daniel G.,        compilers. Proceedings, 6th biennial southern silvicultural research        conference: Volume 1; 1990 October 30 - November 1; Memphis, TN. Gen.        Tech. Rep. SE-70. Asheville, NC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest        Service, Southeastern Forest Experiment Station: 186-193.  [17477]
  • 27.  Miller, James H.; Williamson, Max. 1987. Weeds in your woodlot?.        American Tree Farmer. 6(3): 8-9.  [14369]
  • 30.  Olson, David F., Jr.; Barnes, R. L. 1974. Diospyros virginiana L. common        persimmon. In: Schopmeyer, C. S., technical coordinator. Seeds of woody        plants in the United States. Agric. Handb. 450. Washington, DC: U.S.        Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: 373-375.  [7602]
  • 4.  Bovey, Rodney W. 1977. Response of selected woody plants in the United        States to herbicides. Agric. Handb. 493. Washington, DC: U.S. Department        of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service. 101 p.  [8899]
  • 5.  Cain, M. D. 1991. The influence of woody and herbaceous competition on        early growth of naturally regenerated loblolly and shortleaf pines.        Southern Journal of Applied Forestry. 15(4): 179-185.  [17531]

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Cultivars, improved and selected materials (and area of origin)

Contact your local Natural Resources Conservation Service (formerly Soil Conservation Service) office for more information. Look in the phone book under ”United States Government.” The Natural Resources Conservation Service will be listed under the subheading “Department of Agriculture.”

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Common persimmon usually is considered undesirable by growers of closely managed timber stands. It has been controlled by prescribed burns but is also known to decrease with fire exclusion. Roots and rootstocks are killed by severe fires that char the soil; less severe fires top-kill the plant. Vigorous sprouts are produced from the root collar following top-kill by fire or after cutting. Deer occasionally browse the sprouts but cattle usually avoid them. Thickets from root suckers and collar sprouts in pastures may be problematic. Various herbicides are used to kill the plants.

The principal natural defoliators of common persimmon are the webworm (Seiarctica echo) and the hickory horned devil (Citheronia regalis). Small branches severed by a twig girdler (Oncideres cingulata) are often encountered – these wounds allow entry of a wilt fungus, Cephalosporium diospyri, which kills many trees in the southeastern US. An infected tree lives 1-2 years after the wilting appears. Diseased trees should be burned and bruises on healthy trees should be covered with pitch or wax to prevent entry by wind-borne spores.

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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Cultivation

American Persimmon is very adaptable, tolerating full sun to light shade, moist to dry conditions, and soil containing clay-loam, loam, silt, sand, and rocky material. It grows slowly. Fruit can be produced as early as 10-15 years. Because of its long taproot, this tree can be difficult to transplant.
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Economic Uses

Uses: Fruit, MEDICINE/DRUG, Building materials/timber

Comments: The fruit (persimmon) is commonly eaten and the wood is employed chiefly in the manufacture of weaver's shuttles.

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Other uses and values

The unripe fruit and inner bark of common persimmon are sometimes used
in the treatment of fever, diarrhea, and hemorrhage.  Indelible ink can
also be made from the fruit.  Common persimmon is sometimes planted as
an ornamental; the flowers are used in the production of honey [30,36].
  • 30.  Olson, David F., Jr.; Barnes, R. L. 1974. Diospyros virginiana L. common        persimmon. In: Schopmeyer, C. S., technical coordinator. Seeds of woody        plants in the United States. Agric. Handb. 450. Washington, DC: U.S.        Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: 373-375.  [7602]
  • 36.  Vines, Robert A. 1960. Trees, shrubs, and woody vines of the Southwest.        Austin, TX: University of Texas Press. 1104 p.  [7707]

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Value for rehabilitation of disturbed sites

Common persimmon sends down a deep taproot which makes it a good species
for erosion control.  It is, however, difficult to transplant [15].
Propagation is by seed stratified at 41 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit (5-10
deg C) for 365 days and sown in the spring.  Germination is about 80
percent.  Root cuttings 6 to 8 inches (15-20 cm) long and 1/3 inch (0.85
cm) in diameter can also be used provided the ends are sealed with pitch
or wax to prevent rot [36].
  • 15.  Halls, Lowell K. 1990. Diospyros virginiana L.  common persimmon. In:        Burns, Russell M.; Honkala, Barbara H., technical coordinators. Silvics        of North America. Vol. 2. Hardwoods. Agric. Handb. 654. Washington, DC:        U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: 294-298.  [18610]
  • 36.  Vines, Robert A. 1960. Trees, shrubs, and woody vines of the Southwest.        Austin, TX: University of Texas Press. 1104 p.  [7707]

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Importance to Livestock and Wildlife

In Indiana and Ohio, the leaves and twigs of common persimmon are an
important supplementary fall and winter food for white-tailed deer
[29,34].  The fruit is an important food for squirrel, fox, coyote,
racoon, opossum, and quail [7,22].  Hogs relish the fruit of common
persimmon, but it is of little value to other livestock and is
considered a nuisance [15].
  • 15.  Halls, Lowell K. 1990. Diospyros virginiana L.  common persimmon. In:        Burns, Russell M.; Honkala, Barbara H., technical coordinators. Silvics        of North America. Vol. 2. Hardwoods. Agric. Handb. 654. Washington, DC:        U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: 294-298.  [18610]
  • 22.  Landers, J. Larry. 1987. Prescribed burning for managing wildlife in        southeastern pine forests. In: Dickson, James G.; Maughan, O. Eugene,        eds. Managing southern forests for wildlife and fish: a proceedings;        [Date of conference unknown]
  • 29.  Nixon, Charles M.; McClain, Milford W.; Russell, Kenneth R. 1970. Deer        food habits and range characteristics in Ohio. Journal of Wildlife        Management. 34(4): 870-886.  [16398]
  • 34.  Sotala, Dennis J.; Kirkpatrick, Charles M. 1973. Foods of white-tailed        deer, Odocoileus virginianus, in Martin County, Indiana. American        Midland Naturalist. 89(2): 281-286.  [15056]
  • 7.  Deen, Robert T.; Hodges, John D. 1991. Oak regeneration in abandoned        fields: presumed role of the blue jay. In: Coleman, Sandra S.; Neary,        Daniel G., compilers. Proceedings, 6th biennial southern silvicultural        research conference: Vol. 1; 1990 October 30 - November 1; Memphis, TN.        Gen. Tech. Rep. SE-70. Asheville, NC: U.S. Department of Agriculture,        Forest Service, Southeastern Forest Experiment Station: 84-93.  [17465]

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Wood Products Value

The wood of common persimmon is hard, smooth, and even textured.  It is
used for turnery, plane stocks, veneer, golf club heads, and
occasionally low-grade lumber [8,36].
  • 36.  Vines, Robert A. 1960. Trees, shrubs, and woody vines of the Southwest.        Austin, TX: University of Texas Press. 1104 p.  [7707]
  • 8.  Duncan, Wilbur H.; Duncan, Marion B. 1988. Trees of the southeastern        United States. Athens, GA: The University of Georgia Press. 322 p.        [12764]

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Nutritional Value

The seeds and fruits of common persimmon are generally low in crude
protein, crude fat, and calcim, but high in nitrogen-free extract and
tannin [3,15].
  • 15.  Halls, Lowell K. 1990. Diospyros virginiana L.  common persimmon. In:        Burns, Russell M.; Honkala, Barbara H., technical coordinators. Silvics        of North America. Vol. 2. Hardwoods. Agric. Handb. 654. Washington, DC:        U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: 294-298.  [18610]
  • 3.  Blinn, Charles R.; Buckner, Edward R. 1989. Normal foliar nutrient        levels in North American forest trees: A summary. Station Bulletin        590-1989. St. Paul, MN: University of Minnesota, Minnesota Agricultural        Experiment Station. 27 p.  [15282]

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Special Uses

The wood is heavy, hard, strong, and very close grained. The  average number of rings is 5.5 per cm (14 per in) (12). Specific  gravity of light-brown sapwood is 0.79; a 0.028 m³ (1.0 ft³  ) block weighs about 22 kg (49 lb). Because of its hardness,  smoothness, and even texture, it is particularly desirable for  turnery, plane stocks, shoe lasts, shuttles, and golf club heads.

    Persimmon is sometimes planted for its edible fruit. Dried fruit  is added to baked goods and occasionally is fermented with hops,  cornmeal, or wheat bran into a sort of beer. The dried, roasted,  ground seeds have been used as a substitute for coffee.

    Several cultivars are available with improved fruit size and  quality. In native persimmon areas, top working or grafting on  suckers is a good way to get superior cultivars into bearing  quickly. One staminate tree seems sufficient to pollinate at  least 23 pistillate trees of the same race (8). The pulp is very  astringent when not ripe, but after a frost in the fall, when the  fruit turns yellow orange, the flesh is pleasing in taste (12).  The fruit is eaten by many species of song birds, also by the  skunk, raccoon, opossum, gray and fox squirrels, white-tailed  deer, wild turkeys, bobwhite, crows, rabbits, hogs, and cattle  (5). It may, however, cause sickness in livestock. Deer browse  readily on persimmon sprouts, but cattle graze them only lightly.

    Seeds and fruits are generally low in crude protein, crude fat,  and calcium but high in nitrogen-free extract and tannin (13).

    The inner bark and unripe fruit are sometimes used in treatment of  fevers, diarrhea, and hemorrhage. Indelible ink is made from  fruit.

    Persimmon is valued as an ornamental because of its hardiness,  adaptability to a wide range of soils and climates, its lustrous  leaves, its abundant crop of fruits, and its immunity from  disease and insects. It has been introduced into Europe.

    The tree is suitable for erosion control on deeper soils because  of its deep root system, but this same characteristic makes it  difficult to plant.

    Persimmon is considered a woody weed in unimproved pastures, and  it prevents many areas from being grazed effectively. Inoculation  of persimmon stumps with a fungus (Cephalosporium diospyriwas found to be an effective means of preventing subsequent  sprouting.

    Persimmon flowers are useful in the production of honey.

  • Burns, Russell M., and Barbara H. Honkala, technical coordinators. 1990. Silvics of North America: 1. Conifers; 2. Hardwoods.   Agriculture Handbook 654 (Supersedes Agriculture Handbook 271,Silvics of Forest Trees of the United States, 1965).   U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Washington, DC. vol.2, 877 pp.   http://www.na.fs.fed.us/spfo/pubs/silvics_manual/table_of_contents.htm External link.
Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 (CC BY-NC 3.0)

Lowell K. Halls

Source: Silvics of North America

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Uses

Common persimmon is sometimes used as an ornamental for its hardiness, adaptability to a wide range of soils and climates, and immunity from disease and insects. Moist, well-drained soils provide best conditions but the plant will tolerate hot, dry, poor soils, including various city conditions. The species is rarely sold commercially, however. The leaves are glossy and leathery and may be yellow or reddish-purple in the fall. Several cultivars have been selected primarily for fruit color, taste, size, and early maturation; several are seedless. Budded or grafted trees are a sure way of getting a desired type. Common persimmon sends down a deep taproot, which makes it a good species for erosion control but makes it difficult to transplant.

The wood of common persimmon is hard, smooth, and even textured. The hardness and shock resistance make it ideal for textile shuttles and heads for driver golf clubs. The heartwood is used for veneer and specialty items, but most of commercially used persimmon is reported to consist of sapwood.

Unripe fruit and inner bark have been used in the treatment of fever, diarrhea, and hemorrhage. The fruits are used in puddings, cookies, cakes, custard, and sherbet; the dried, roasted, ground seeds have been used as a substitute for coffee. Flowers produce nectar significant for bees in honey production. Leaves and twigs of common persimmon are eaten in fall and winter by white-tailed deer. The fruit is eaten by squirrel, fox, skunk, deer, bear, coyote, raccoon, opossum, and various birds, including quail, wild turkey, cedar waxwing, and catbird.

Public Domain

USDA NRCS National Plant Data Center & the Biota of North America Program

Source: USDA NRCS PLANTS Database

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Wikipedia

Diospyros virginiana

For other uses, see Possumwood (disambiguation).
Not to be confused with Amelanchier canadensis, also called sugarplum

Diospyros virginiana is a persimmon species commonly called the American Persimmon,[1] Common Persimmon,[2] Eastern Persimmon, "'Simmon", "Possumwood", or "Sugar-plum".[3] It ranges from southern Connecticut/Long Island to Florida, and west to Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Kansas. The tree grows wild but has been cultivated for its fruit and wood since prehistoric times by Native Americans.

Diospyros virginiana grows through 20 m (66 ft), in well-drained soil. In summer, this species produces fragrant flowers which are dioecious, so one must have both male and female plants to obtain fruit. Most cultivars are parthenocarpic (setting seedless fruit without pollination). The flowers are pollinated by insects and wind. Fruiting typically begins when the tree is about 6 years old.

The fruit is round or oval and usually orange-yellow and sometimes bluish and from 2 through 6 cm (0.79 through 2.4 in) in diameter. In the U.S. South and Midwest, the fruits are referred to as simply Persimmons or "'Simmons", and are popular in desserts and cuisine.

Commercial varieties include the very productive Early Golden, the productive John Rick, Miller, Woolbright and the Ennis, a seedless variety. Another nickname of the American Persimmon, 'Date-plum' also refers to a persimmon species found in South Asia, Diospyros lotus.

Description[edit]

American persimmon tree bearing fruit in the fall
Flower

It is a small tree usually 30 through 80 feet (10 through 24 meters) in height, with a short, slender trunk and spreading, often pendulous branches, which form a broad or narrow, round-topped canopy. The roots are thick, fleshy and stoloniferous. This species as has a shrubby growth form.[4] This plant has oval entire leaves, and unisexual flowers on short stalks. In the male flowers, which are numerous, the stamens are sixteen in number and arranged in pairs; the female flowers are solitary, with traces of stamens, and a smooth ovary with one ovule in each of the eight cells—the ovary is surmounted by four styles, which are hairy at the base. The fruit-stalk is very short, bearing a subglobose fruit an inch in diameter or a bit larger, of an orange-yellow color, ranging to bluish, and with a sweetish astringent pulp. It is surrounded at the base by the persistent calyx-lobes, which increase in size as the fruit ripens. The astringency renders the fruit somewhat unpalatable, but after it has been subjected to the action of frost, or has become partially rotted or "bletted" like a medlar, its flavor is improved.[5]

  • Bark: Dark brown or dark gray, deeply divided into plates whose surface is scaly. Branchlets slender, zigzag, with thick pith or large pith cavity; at first light reddish brown and pubescent. They vary in color from light brown to ashy gray and finally become reddish brown, the bark somewhat broken by longitudinal fissures. Astringent and bitter.
  • Wood: Very dark; sapwood yellowish white; heavy, hard, strong and very close grained. Specific gravity, 0.7908; weight of cubic foot, 49.28 lb (22.35 kg). The heartwood is a true ebony. Forestry texts indicate that about a century of growth is required before a tree will produce a commercially viable yield of ebony wood.
  • Winter buds: Ovate, acute, one-eighth of an inch long, covered with thick reddish or purple scales. These scales are sometimes persistent at the base of the branchlets.
  • Leaves: Alternate, simple, four to six inches (152 mm) long, oval, narrowed or rounded or cordate at base, entire, acute or acuminate. They come out of the bud revolute, thin, pale, reddish green, downy with ciliate margins, when full grown are thick, dark green, shining above, pale and often pubescent beneath. In autumn they sometimes turn orange or scarlet, sometimes fall without change of color. Midrib broad and flat, primary veins opposite and conspicuous. Petioles stout, pubescent, one-half to an inch in length.
  • Flowers: May, June, when leaves are half-grown; diœcious or rarely polygamous. Staminate flowers borne in two to three-flowered cymes; the pedicels downy and bearing two minute bracts. Pistillate flowers solitary, usually on separate trees, their pedicels short, recurved, and bearing two bractlets.
  • Calyx: Usually four-lobed, accrescent under the fruit.
  • Corolla: Greenish yellow or creamy white, tubular, four-lobed; lobes imbricate in bud.
  • Stamens: Sixteen, inserted on the corolla, in staminate flowers in two rows. Filaments short, slender, slightly hairy; anthers oblong, introrse, two-celled, cells opening longitudinally. In pistillate flowers the stamens are eight with aborted anthers, rarely these stamens are perfect.
  • Pistil: Ovary superior, conical, ultimately eight-celled; styles four, slender, spreading; stigma two-lobed.
  • Fruit: A juicy berry containing one to eight seeds, crowned with the remnants of the style and seated in the enlarged calyx; depressed-globular, pale orange color, often red-cheeked; with slight bloom, turning yellowish brown after freezing. Flesh astringent while green, sweet and luscious when ripe.[4]
Distribution map of the American persimmon

Distribution[edit]

The tree is very common in the South Atlantic and Gulf states, and attains its largest size in the basin of the Mississippi River.[5] Its habitat is southern, it appears along the coast from New York to Florida; west of the Alleghenies it is found in southern Ohio and along through southeastern Iowa and southern Missouri; when it reaches Louisiana, eastern Kansas and Oklahoma it becomes a mighty tree, one hundred fifteen feet high.[4]

Its fossil remains have been found in Miocene rocks of Greenland and Alaska and in Cretaceous formations in Nebraska.[4]

D. virginiana is believed to be an evolutionary remnant of the megafauna that roamed the North American continent until 10,000 years ago and would have eaten the fruit, assisting in its dispersal. However, as it is attractive to raccoons, rodents, and smaller animals, the loss of large grazing herbivores and omnivores in historical times has not seriously affected the tree's survival strategy as compared to Kentucky Coffeetree and Osage Orange which are inedible to most extant wildlife and saw their ranges greatly diminish without mastodons and other dispersal agent fauna.[citation needed]

Uses[edit]

The peculiar characteristics of its fruit have made the tree well known. This fruit is a globular berry, with variation in the number of seeds, sometimes with eight and sometimes without any. It bears at its apex the remnants of the styles and sits in the enlarged and persistent calyx. It ripens in late autumn, is pale orange with a red cheek, often covered with a slight glaucous bloom. One joke among Southerners is to induce strangers to taste unripe persimmon fruit, as its very astringent bitterness is shocking to those unfamiliar with it.[citation needed] Folklore states that frost is required to make it edible, but fully ripened fruit lightly shaken from the tree or found on the ground below the tree is sweet, juicy and delicious. The peculiar astringency of the fruit is due to the presence of a tannin similar to that of Cinchona. The seeds were used as buttons during the American Civil War.[6]

The fruit is high in vitamin C. The unripe fruit is extremely astringent. The ripe fruit may be eaten raw, cooked or dried. Molasses can be made from the fruit pulp. A tea can be made from the leaves and the roasted seed is used as a coffee substitute. Other popular uses include desserts such as persimmon pie, persimmon pudding, or persimmon candy.

The fruit is also fermented with hops, cornmeal or wheat bran into a sort of beer or made into brandy. The wood is heavy, strong and very close-grained and used in woodturning.[5]

Cultivation[edit]

The tree prefers light, sandy, well-drained soil, but will grow in rich, southern, bottom lands. It can be grown in northern Ohio only with the greatest of care, and in southern Ohio its fruit is never edible until after frost.[4]

The tree is greatly inclined to vary in the character and quality of its fruit, in size this varies from that of a small cherry to a small apple. Some trees in the south produce fruit that is delicious without the action of the frost, while adjoining trees produce fruit that never becomes edible.[4]

It was brought to England before 1629 and is cultivated, but rarely if ever ripens its fruit. It is easily raised from seed and can also be propagated from stolons, which are often produced in great quantity. The tree is hardy in the south of England and in the Channel Islands.[5]

In respect to the power of making heartwood, the persimmon rarely develops any heartwood until it is nearly one hundred years old. This heartwood is extremely close-grained and almost black, resembling ebony (of which it is not a true variety).[4][7]

It is a common misconception persimmon fruit needs frost to ripen and soften. Some, such as the early-ripening varieties "pieper" and "NC21"(also known as "supersweet"), easily lose astringency and become completely free of it when slightly soft at the touch—these are then very sweet, even in the British climate. On the other hand, some varieties (like the very large fruited "yates", which is a late ripening variety) remain astringent even when the fruit has become completely soft (at least in the British climate). Frost, however, destroys the cells within the fruit, causing it to rot instead of ripen. Only completely ripe and soft fruit can stand some frost; it will then dry and become even sweeter (hence the misconception). The same goes for the oriental persimmon (Diospyros kaki), where early frost can severely damage a fruit crop.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b USDA GRIN taxonomy
  2. ^ USDA PLANTS database
  3. ^ Phillips, Jan (1979). Wild Edibles of Missouri. Jefferson City, Missouri: Missouri Department of Conservation. p. 40. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g Keeler, Harriet L. (1900). Our Native Trees and How to Identify Them. New York: Charles Scriber's Sons. pp. 195–199. 
  5. ^ a b c d Public Domain One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Persimmon". Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. 
  6. ^ Dodge, David (1886). "Domestic Economy in the Confederacy". The Atlantic Monthly 58 (August): 229–241. 
  7. ^ The ebony of commerce is derived from five different tropical species of the genus, two from India and one each from Africa, Malaya and Mauritius. The beautiful variegated coromandel wood is the product of a species found in Ceylon.
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Names and Taxonomy

Taxonomy

Common Names

common persimmon
persimmon
simmon
possumwood
eastern persimmon
Florida persimmon

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The scientific name for common persimmon is Diospyros virginiana L.
[13]. Varieties include [10,24,36]:

D. virginiana L. var. virginiana - typical common persimmon
D. virginiana var. pubescens (Pursch) Dipp. - fuzzy common persimmon
D. virginiana var. platycarpa Sarg. - Oklahoma common persimmon
D. virginiana var. mosieri (Small) Sarg. - Florida persimmon
  • 10.  Fernald, Merritt Lyndon. 1950. Gray's manual of botany. [Corrections        supplied by R. C. Rollins]
  • 13.  Godfrey, Robert K. 1988. Trees, shrubs, and woody vines of northern        Florida and adjacent Georgia and Alabama. Athens, GA: The University of        Georgia Press. 734 p.  [10239]
  • 24.  Little, Elbert L., Jr. 1979. Checklist of United States trees (native        and naturalized). Agric. Handb. 541. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of        Agriculture, Forest Service. 375 p.  [2952]
  • 36.  Vines, Robert A. 1960. Trees, shrubs, and woody vines of the Southwest.        Austin, TX: University of Texas Press. 1104 p.  [7707]

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