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50 Natives: Iowa: Diospyros virginiana – American Persimmon


Am I the only one that associates persimmons with warmer dry climates? I think of California or Sicily where I once feasted on them at a winery on the slopes of Mt Etna.   So I am as surprised as anyone to know that American Persimmons are native to nearly half the states in the US.   I can grow them here in Massachusetts if I want to.  The native range includes the entire Mississippi River Basin as well as most all the states to the east plus taxes, California, Utah and couple others.  So the Persimmon is really not an exotic Mediterranean fruit but rather something we should be seeing on the all the farm stands of middle America.  Do you buy persimmons locally?

1. Diospyros virginiana, 2. Diospyros virginiana 07, 3. Diospyros virginiana 16, 4. persimmon bark

I am so wholly unfamiliar with using this fruit I did a little recon on the subject and found a nice collection interesting recipes that I plan to use.   My plan…seek them out at the market, try them a time or two and if I can make something of them – I will plant an American Persimmon in my landscape (and perhaps a few clients too).

I am intrigued by a persimmon bread recipe from Food you Can Cook anywhere.  I think planting a tree will likely leave me with more than I will know what to do with so I am also interested in using up some of the fruits to make Persimmon Vinegar and Pickled Persimmon’s from Rookie Cookery.   If you are following the Olympics and like a bit something a little on the gourmet side,  Edible British Columbia has a recipe for Belgian Endive &Persimmon Salad.

The Naked Beet however has the most interesting recipe (to me) for a Persimmon Ham Sandwich. (image below from Naked Beet).  Yum.

The glossy leathery leaves make the persimmon tree a nice one for landscaping, but it is not easily transplanted because of the taproot. 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. The wood is heavy, hard, strong, and very close grained. Because of its hardness, smoothness, and even texture, it is particularly desirable for turnery, plane stocks, shoe lasts, shuttles, and golf club heads.

Besides the edible fruit, the dried, roasted, ground seeds have been used as a substitute for coffee and persimmon flowers are also useful in the production of honey.  A great all around tree I would say.  Do you have one? How does it grow in your garden?

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  1. private says:

    I have heard that planting persimmon is like sending a gilded invitation to the local deer.

  2. how it grows says:

    I don’t have one but I’ve admired their beautiful fruit out in the countryside. And I have had the unpleasant experience of eating one before it was fully ripe.

  3. nakedbeet says:

    Thanks so much for the shout out!

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