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Diospyros virginiana
 

Exotické rostliny, Zdeněk Černoch, Větřkovice u Vítkova

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Diospyros virginiana

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Diospyros virginiana

This fruit tree originates in the US East Coast area. It was wildly growing in Texas and Florida (south), Kansas (west) and southern Ontario (north). Nowadays D. virigniana varieties are grown to many more countries and continents with similar climate.

This persimmon thrives even in climates with annual minimums closing to -30°C and where average sum of vegetation warmth is around 2500°C (New Hampshire – cultivar 'Meader').

 

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Diospyros virginiana x Diospyros kaki

These varieties are characterized by big fruit and superb frost hardiness

'Geneva Long' is probably a cross originating in Switzerland. It is supposed to be hardy to -30°C and produces ovate fruit that ripens in the middle of October. This cultivar is one of John Gordon’s top 5 most recommended varieties.

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'Natale oriental' was selected from a seedling batch in southern Ontario, Canada. Its fruit is reported to be as big as D. kaki fruit and sweet even before ripening. Its foliage and branches too resemble the D. kaki and many botanists even speculate that it could be some mutation of D. virginiana. It is hardy to -18°C and advised into USDA zones 7 - 9

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'Nikitas Gift' is a patented hybrid variety originating in Jalta. It has quite big fruit and is supposedly hardy to -24°C. Its fruit is very aromatic and delicious; it usually ripens in the second half of October.

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'Rosseyanka' is a patented hybrid variety originating in Jalta too. It produces slightly smaller fruit than 'Nikitas Gift' and its foliage resembles that of D. virginiana. There have been reported significant differences in fruit size and ripening time from plants grafted on various rootstocks; 'Rosseyanka' grafted on D. lotus ripens later (end of October) and the fruit must be in our climate harvested before the first frosts and kept inside the cold storage room, where it will consequently ripen. If you graft this variety on D. virginiana, you’ll get slightly smaller fruit that however ripens during October and is delicious even unripe

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Diospyros virginiana cultivars:

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‘816' is a tree growing in the middle of the front yard of a house just up the street from my office; current owner knows nothing about it, but one of the previous owners must have been a fruit enthusiast, as there are quite a few nice apples/pears in the backyard - and it would be unusual for most folks to plant a persimmon as the focal point of their small residential yard, unless they were ‘into' them.  There is a male persimmon planted at the edge of the driveway at the edge of the yard - I have seen it bear an occasional fruit from time to time.  I've always wondered if the fruiting female tree might be Meader or Early Golden, as those two are probably the most widely disseminated American persimmon varieties.  I think I do have some grainy digital photos of the ‘816' tree - I'll see if I can find them and forward to you.  It looks pretty sad right now - it bears so heavily that it has broken quite a few sizeable limbs out over the past few years, just due to the weight of the fruit load.  Average size fruits, with good flavor, seeded, usually dropping first ripe fruits here around 21 September.

Brace #2 is a selection that I got from Don Compton at Marengo, IN - there is also a ‘Brace #1';  neither have fruited yet for me - but they're both still stuck in the nursery row with several other grafted trees that I've never yet gotten around to moving.  At least Cliff has seen fruit.

This cultivar is one of John Gordon’s top 5 most recommended varieties. It ripens early and is suitable even to the northernmost Persimmon tree cultivation zones.

 

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Celebrity U20A, From Jerry Lehman Indiana breeding program highly rated fruit one of the best tasting and large

'Dickie' is a very early variety from a John Gordon’s selection (New York). It produces smaller fruit and can be harvested in September.

 

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Dollywood,is D128 from the Claypool breeding program large fruit ripening medium season.

This cultivar produces big fruit and according to a description from one American web site it should be very early variety.

 

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'Evelyn' comes from a selection made by John Gordon. It produces small fruit that ripens in October.

 

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F-34 is a Morris Burton x George(male offspring of John Rick, and is the male parent of the ‘bisexual' F-100)

F56 From James Claypool breeding program large fruit very taste and nice color

It is most probably a seedling of 'Early golden'. It produces excellent and delicious fruit that ripens early in October.

 

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Short Season, Early Leaf Drop, Juhl X Garretson .  From James Claypool breeding program very large , very taste and nice color

H69A, From James Claypool breeding program large fruit very taste and nice color

'Hess' comes from a selection made by John Gordon. It produces small fruit that ripens in October.

 

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'John Rick' is very interesting, partially self-pollinating cultivar that produces bigger fruit. It ripens early in October, but needs a good pollinator (Male or Szukis)

 

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'Korp' is from John Gordon’s selection and it is cross of the same maternal varieties as 'Prok'. It produces slightly bigger fruit that ripens in the middle of October.

 

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It is a male plant and an excellent pollinator for all D. virginiana varieties

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'Meader' is a propably self-pollinating cultivar that usually forms the fruit partenocapricly without any pollination. In case it is pollinated by another variety, it produces also several seeds. The fruit is 3,5-4,5cm in diameter and has wonderful orange color. It usually ripens by the end of October and the fruit needs to have the first frost on its skin to ripen properly.

 

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Miller, smaller seedless fruit that is a heavy producer origin unknown

'Mohler' is from a new selection made in the USA. It should be a very early variety with bigger, sweet fruit.

 

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Morris Burton, From John Gordon In NY good fruit and is very good tasting

'Peiper' is a cultivar brought from southern Ontario, Canada. It produces small orange fruit that ripens in the middle of October.

 

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'Peipher' comes from a new John Gordon’s selection I got in 2008.

 

It is from John Gordon’s selection and is characterized by big (5-6cm) fruit that ripens in the middle of October.

 

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'Ruby' is a cultivar with bigger reddish fruit that ripens in late October.

 

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'SAA Pieper' comes from a selection made by John Gordon and is advised to use as a rootstock.

 

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SFES'  - I *think* is a polygamodioecious (bisexual) male - I never can remember to stop by to look at it when it's in bloom.  Growing in a fencerow along the highway right-of-way across from the Sinking Fork Elmentary School here in Christian Co., KY where my kids attended school.  Bears about 80% small (1") seedless fruits, 20% slightly large fruits with a single plump seed.  Typical D.virginiana flavor.

'Super Sweet' comes from the selection made by John Gordon. It produces rather atypical, very sweet fruit.

 

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'Szukis' produces small fruit and is more often used as a pollinator than popular cultivar.

 

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'Yates' is one of those varieties that John Gordon puts in his top 5. It produces enormous, sweet, orange fruit that ripens on the middle of October.

 

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'Weber' comes from a very special selection and its fruit ripens in October

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Cultivation
If someone wants to breed a new fruiting cultivar, he usually has to start from seed. They can be ordered from several foreign companies and sources, but only hardly any local. There’s only one condition persimmon ideal to our climate must fulfill – it has to have 90 chromosomes and originate in northern persimmon cultivation areas that have climate similar to Central European climate and microclimates. The second variant with 60 chromosomes is completely useless here, because it lacks the frost hardiness necessary to survive in our region and has too long vegetation period which would only mean that th fruit would never be able to ripen here and the persimmon tree will only hardly survive each winter.
If you manage to obtain some seeds in autumn, they should undergo a stratification process in order to simulate natural winter conditions (ideally outside in snow (if there’s some) or refrigerator/good storage room). Feel free to sow the seeds by the end of April so that the seedlings are not harmed by late spring frosts. They usually germinate within 3-5 weeks and grow slowly at first. They require direct sun and lots of water as soon as they start forming the first leaves and usually grow 20-30cm in the first season.

 

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If they survive their first and most important winter, their growth will be much faster and more vigorous in each following season (up to 1 meter high and 0,5-1cm in girth after the 2nd season). Seedlings are usually ready to be grafted after the 2nd season.

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In case you sowed the seeds into containers it doesn’t really matter whether you used rich or poor soils. Young seedlings and sprouts are not very demanding. My experience is that the results are better and growth is faster when you use airy soils with lots of nutrients, minerals and water regularly. Seedlings planted in the field don’t suffer or get root-bound. If you want to relocate the plant, do use early in the season, so that the persimmon seedling or tree has enough time to make new roots and prepare for the winter. I strongly don’t advise you to plant out in the garden any bare-root seedling you receive from USA, because there’s only a very small chance that the plant will survive the first winter due to the root damage it suffers while travelling to Europe. More sophisticated and working approach would be to buy already grafted, well established plants in containers and good root ball. Plants received from beyond the pond (USA, Canada) should be protected indoors at temperatures around -5°C. Do so at least the first 2 winters. After you have planted out the persimmon tree, it will start fruiting after the 3rd year and young seedlings after the 8th or 10th year. Persimmons grow at normal pace and only rarely reach their full potential – 15m.

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Its elliptic, dark green leaves are usually 10-15cm long, 7cm wide and give you very good, subtropical feeling. Old tree’s bark usually cracks and forms ridges. Persimmons start shooting and blooming late in the season and in northernmost zones it can be as late as May. It is one of its most prized characteristics, because the plants are not at risk from late frosts. Slowly shooting buds are frost hardy to -3 or -5°C and 1,5cm long flower buds fall off the tree when the temperatures fall below 0°C. Flowers appear almost exclusively on young shoots and soft wood and how long the persimmon trees bloom depends on the climate. It can start blooming as early as May in certain lowland areas and as late as June in mountains. Its very descent, yellow-whmeaderkvet03.jpgite flowers with thick green calyx grow either individually or in clusters in the leaf axils. Some trees only have male and other only female flowers. There are also some varieties that form both: male and female flowers on one plant (Szukis). If the female flowers are pollinated, they disappear and a fruit is soon formed. It will grow the whole season and ripe as orange, 3-6cm long persimmons. They are often bitter and distasteful when they are unripe, but as soon as they ripen, the pulp’s flavor changes to delicious and sweet. Fruit shape and size are variable, it can be as spherical as citrus or flattened, sometimes even egg-shaped.

 

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It may or may not contain seeds, that depends on whether it was successfully pollinated, but the fruit is usually completely seedless. There are also several cultivars that can form the fruit partenocarpically and then it is seedless too.

The earliest varieties can ripen in August ('Mohler'), September ('Dickie', 'NC-10' and hybrid 'Rosseyanka') and most of the varieties from late September on.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Harvesting

 

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Ripe persimmons can be shaken off the tree, just like plums. Because it is so sweet and delicious, it has many uses, mainly as the most important ingredient in cakes, rolls… Frozen and whipped pulp can be eaten as ice cream, while the dried fruit eaten just like dates.

Persimmon tree wood is very tough and fragile – both these characteristics are what made it so sought after in musical instrument industry.

Pruning and shaping

Persimmon trees have 2 types of shoots:

1) Elongating shoots represent the tree’s growth and form new, fruiting/blooming shoots in the next season

2) Blooming/fruiting shoots that form flower buds. This type of shoots usually dries and fall off in the autumn, along with the ripe fruit.

Therefore pruning can and must be done in 2 stages:

1) after the harvest – remove the old, broken or somehow damaged wod

2) in the spring (April), before the tree starts shooting, shape the crown and keep the skeletal, strong branches. Try to avoid making too sharp angles which will break or crack as soon as they get an opportunity. All branches that are in sharp angles should rather be removed. It will prevent the damage, when the tree is already producing fruit or flowers.

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