The oriental persimmon was developed primarily in China and Japan. It is a deciduous tree, which grows 25′ to 30′ high and equally as wide at maturity. However, it can be easily kept to 20′ with careful pruning. It begins producing
fruit when four or five years old and bears from late summer to fall. It can withstand temperatures to 0 degrees F and has a chilling requirement of less than 100 hours.
The persimmon is a lovely addition to the landscape, though it is at its peak in the fall, not in the spring. The spring blooms are not showy and have the advantage of appearing in late spring, so they are seldom hit by a late frost. In fall the
red-orange fruit makes a spectacular display. The fruit is so firmly attached to the branches that they stay on for months.
There are two types: astringent and non-astringent. Non-astringent types can be eaten firm, as soon as the beautiful golden color appears. The astringent type will cause your lips to “pucker” if eaten before they become soft and turn color.
But they are worth waiting for–break the fruit in half, scoop the meat out with a spoon and enjoy! They can be frozen or stored in the refrigerator and eaten cold.
The trees need minimal fertilizer. Too much nitrogen will cause fruit drop. Selectively thin the fruit to prevent the limbs from breaking.
Wilma Bryant, former Smith County Master Gardener
Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service