The common persimmon is native to the eastern and central United States but is planted widely beyond that area as a fruit tree with landscape possibilities.
Description of common persimmon: The persimmon is slow-growing but eventually becomes quite large for a fruit tree -- from 35 to 60 feet high. It has a rather oval form, usually symmetrical and densely cloaked in foliage. The deciduous leaves are dark green and elliptic. They turn yellow to reddish purple in fall where summers are long, but often drop while still green in colder climates. The edible fruits are up to 11/2 inches in diameter and yellow to orange. They mature in the fall. The bark is one of the most striking features of this tree. It is dark gray and, on mature specimens, divided into uniform squares. The fragrant flowers are whitish but not often visible among the foliage. The craggy winter appearance of the branches is another plus.
How to grow common persimmon: Plant as a young tree, since mature ones resent transplanting. It grows well on most soils, including poor, dry ones, but prefers moist, well-drained, sandy soils. Individual plants usually bear only male or female flowers; plant at least one male for every four females to ensure pollination. Where there is room for only one tree, try to locate a variety carrying both sexes.
Uses for common persimmon: The persimmon is a good choice for naturalizing and for home orchards. Only harvest the fruit after a hard frost; they are astringent until cold weather increases their sugar content.
Common persimmon related species: The Japanese persimmon (Diospyros Kaki) keeps its bright orange fruits well after the leaves fall for an interesting display. Although it is of limited hardiness (zones 7 to 9), it can be grown as a container plant in cold climates and given frost protection in the winter.
Scientific name for common persimmon: Diospyros virginiana