Backyard Exploration: Persimmons

In our ‘backyard explorations’ we recently discovered that we have a persimmon tree.  I will admit, I had heard of this fruit before, but had not seen or tasted it before.  So we consulted our parents and did some other research and this is what we have learned:  The most popular comment about the persimmon has been, “Do not eat it until it is ripe!”  We have been thoroughly warned.  Ha, ha!  Apparently the fruit is extremely bitter and ‘mouth-puckering’ until it is fully ripe, but also could cause some digestive problems if eaten unripe also. Surprisingly though, it is said that, supposedly, the unripe fruit and inner bark has been used in the past as a treatment for fever, diarrhea, and even hemorrhage.  (Insert Disclaimer:  We don’t advise self-treatment, if you have any ailments please consult your doctor!)  The ripe fruit, however, is supposed to be sweet and can be eaten fresh or used in deserts. 

The persimmon tree tends to thrive the best in moist, well-drained soil, but is said to be a very tolerant tree that is capable of growing in hot/dry areas and with fairly poor soil conditions also.  The trees also have a deep taproot that makes it a good tree for erosion control, but makes it difficult to transplant.  Our persimmon tree seems to be set in an ideal place, on a hill and in a good line of water flow.  The fruit currently is greenish-yellow, some with a hint of orange.  The fruit will not be ripe until it is an orange-red color, and this is supposed to occur in the fall season. 

We will probably need to research and try out some methods of discouraging wildlife from taking all of the fruit before we have a chance to sample it though because apparently the persimmon has a number of predators, including some that have definitely been spotted in our yard (squirrel, fox, skunk, raccoon, opossum, coyotes, and birds).  

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