Japanese persimmon, or Diospyros kaki, is an attractive small tree in the ebonywood family. If it were grown simply as an ornamental, it would have much to recommend it, but, on the practical side, it also produces tasty fruits. These fruits range in size from an inch to almost six inches. They are bright orange and delicious if eaten after the leaves have fallen and a good frost has occurred. Otherwise, beware! One rarely forgets their first bite into a green persimmon.

The species grows slowly to 30 feet but the fruiting varieties found in nurseries tend to be 20 feet. The trees are long lived and bear attractive flowers. Japanese persimmons make nice shade trees for the smaller garden and there are few diseases or pests, and once established, they require little care. The fruits develop over the summer and as the leaves turn to bright yellow and red, the fruits slowly turn orange. When all the leaves have dropped and the bare winter landscape has descended, the lovely persimmon tree stands bearing its bright orange globes at branch tips. Even if the fruit were inedible, they remain beautiful ornaments of autumn and winter. The fruit, however, is delicious once it's allowed to fully ripen. It can be plucked from the tree directly and eaten on the spot or frozen and eaten later like a custard. It's also used in cakes.

Not surprisingly the tree originates in Japan and China. It does best with full sun and well drained soil. It grows very well in the warmer areas of North America, southern England, and temperate Australia and New Zealand. As always, this tree may not be found in the large discount nurseries, but more likely found in the select plant nurseries or from mail-order tree nurseries.

Japanese persimmon


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