You may have seen persimmon fruits at the grocery store, but did you know that persimmon trees are quite popular in the U.S.? Many Persimmon tree types exist worldwide, but two main species of persimmons thrive in America.
The meaning of persimmon is “divine fruit,” As you’ll see, this fruit is a favorite for its juicy sweet flavor! Read on to learn all you need to know about persimmon tree types.
Types of Persimmon Fruits
There are two types of persimmon fruits. Knowing the difference is important so you can consume the fruit at the right time for the best taste!
The astringent fruit contains a high amount of tannins. This means it won’t taste good until it’s fully ripened. Sometimes, the fruit even needs to be overripe for the best taste. Consuming the underripe fruit can lead to an unpleasant experience!
Non-astringent fruit is not as high in tannins. Because of this, the fruit can be eaten before it’s reached full maturity, and it will still be just as sweet. These types of fruits can be consumed both before the fruit has ripened and after it has ripened.
Popular Persimmon Tree Types Available in the U.S.
Two main species of Persimmon trees are grown within the U.S., producing the familiar orange fruit. Of these two species, there are six different Persimmon tree types. They are both members of the Ebony family (Ebenaceae) and fall under the Diospyros genus.
The Asian Persimmon, known as Diospyros kaki, and the American Persimmon, known as Diospyros virginiana, can be found throughout the U.S. Both species are popular because the beautiful trees are often used ornamentally and produce tasty fruit.
If you’re interested in growing any of the varieties in this article, check out our guides, How to Grow a Persimmon Tree and Persimmon Tree Care, for all you need to know.
The persimmons usually found in grocery stores are Asian persimmons. The trees thrive in eastern North Carolina and southern Piedmont.
The Asian persimmon is known as the Diospyros kaki (D. kaki) genus. Other common names used for this species of persimmon are the Japanese persimmon, kaki, or oriental persimmon. The Fuyu variety of Asian persimmons is the most commonly grown persimmon in the U.S.
This species of persimmons come in both astringent and non-astringent fruits.
The Asian persimmon tree is deciduous. Most varieties are dioecious, which means they grow either male or female flowers. Asian persimmons are also parthenocarpic, meaning they provide seedless fruit without the need for pollination.
The roots of the Asian persimmon can be traced back to central China in 450 BC. American Naval Officer M.C. Perry brought it to the U.S. in the mid-1800s. He was introduced to it while in Japan and brought it back to America. It is most commonly grown in eastern Asia or India.
The Asian Persimmon Appearance
The fruit of the Asian persimmon tree is a deep orange. It’s usually 3-4 inches around, taking a spherical shape.
The flower is creamy white, pale yellow, or pink. It has a fragrant scent and blooms in the spring. The petals are bell-shaped, with 4-5 per flower. The flowers are smaller than 1 inch. Female trees have flowers that grow singularly, while male trees have flowers that grow in clusters of 3.
The leaves of the Asian persimmon are golden yellow or green and have a glossy sheen. In the autumn, they turn golden, red, or orange. They are oval and grow to approximately 3-6 inches.
The Asian Persimmon Taste
The fruit of the Asian persimmon tree is considered a berry, so it stands to reason that it has a sweet flavor. It’s been compared to the taste of honey, sometimes having an apple-like flavor.
Growing the Asian Persimmon Tree
Interested in planting an Asian persimmon tree? Planting more than one variety in your garden is suggested if a large fruit yield is your goal.
These trees need full sun exposure with clay, loam, or sandy soil. Be sure it has access to neutral soil pH with good drainage and can be kept moist. It’s suggested to plant the trees 12-24 feet apart for room to grow.
The flowers usually bloom in mid-April, with a fruit harvest in the fall and winter. These trees boast gorgeous autumn foliage.
These trees need 4-6 years before they will begin bearing fruit. After it begins bearing fruit, it will bear fruit every year for 30-50 years if cared for properly.
The Asian persimmon has no serious insect or disease problems. They don’t need to be pruned each year. The only drawback is that they do produce root suckers which will need to be removed.
They will reach a final height of 20-30 feet and a width of 15-25 feet. This tree is considered low maintenance.
Varieties of the Asian Persimmon
The chocolate persimmon is a non-astringent persimmon. The inside is brown and resembles chocolate jelly. The fruit is sweet, with a nutty-spice flavor, and incredibly juicy. The skin is bright red in appearance.
This is another non-astringent persimmon and is one of the most widely grown. The skin boasts a pumpkin orange color, with the same color reflected inside. These beautiful fruits are topped with a tiny green cap, making them perfect for photography. The flavor is sweet and rich with a hint of clove.
Another non-astringent persimmon, this fruit grows particularly large. It lacks the spicy notes of other varieties with a taste like sugar cane. The trees usually stay under 15 feet tall, making them a good choice for lower maintenance care. They can also grow in temperatures as low as 0 degrees.
The American persimmon is known by its genus Diospyros virginiana (D. virginiana.) Other common names you may hear it referred to are Common Persimmon, Date Plum, Eastern, Jove’s Fruit, Possum Apples, Possumwood, Simmon, Winter Plum, American Ebony, and Butterwood.
Like the Asian persimmon, the American persimmon tree is deciduous. In addition, many varieties of the American persimmon are also parthenocarpic and dioecious, as well.
These trees are native throughout the east coast. They commonly grow as far inland as Iowa and as far south as Texas. They’ve also become common along the west coast and inland to the southwestern states.
What makes the American persimmon different is its rich history with the Native Americans. The fruit was a part of the diets of the Cree and Delaware tribes and the Algonquin people. The Osage and Quapaw people found many ways to use the fruit, including turning the fruit into loaves of sun-dried pulp.
Many Native American tribes also used the fruit for medicinal purposes. Most notably, the inner bark and unripe fruit have been used to treat various ailments, including fevers, thrush, diarrhea, hemorrhages, and syphilis.
Other uses found for the American persimmon are making indelible ink from the fruit, and golf club heads, billiard cues, and furniture from the heartwood of the plant.
The folklore surrounding the American persimmon says that winter can be predicted by observing the persimmon seed. If the inside of the seed looks like a spoon, snow will be abundant. If it resembles a fork, the winter will be a mild one. If it appears knife-like, it will be an exceptionally cold winter.
Beyond that, the American persimmon tree is known for attracting various wildlife.
The tree’s fruit feeds birds, raccoons, small mammals, foxes, white-tailed deer, and black bears. Furthermore, more than 45 kinds of butterfly and moth species lay their eggs on the persimmon trees, including the luna moth.
The American Persimmon Appearance
The bark of the American persimmon tree sets it apart from other species. The dark gray bark is divided into squares that resemble a checkerboard. The bark is sometimes called “alligator bark” because of its distinct appearance.
The fruit is edible from golden yellow to orange and reaches 1-3 inches in diameter. Some varieties show a red or burgundy coloring when ripe.
American persimmon flowers can range in color from golden yellow to green, orange, and white. As with Asian persimmon flowers, they are known for their strong fragrance.
They bloom in the spring and summer with a bell or tubular shape. Each flower has 4-5 fused petals measuring less than 1 inch. Like the Asian persimmon, the male flowers have 2-3 clusters of flowers, while the female trees have singular flowers.
The leaves are usually golden yellow or green, turning to orange or red in the fall. Their shape is elliptical or oblong and will reach 3-6 inches long.
The American Persimmon Taste
The texture of the American persimmon can vary a bit from the other varieties. It’s known to have a richer taste when compared to Asian persimmons.
The astringent persimmon varieties must be eaten ripe, and taste even better when they’re overripe. The texture is similar to that of pudding, with the pulp usually gelatinous and darker than the skin.
The fruit is known for its sweet taste and has been said to be similar to a peach flavor with added cinnamon and cloves. Others claim it has a hint of caramel flavoring.
Growing the American Persimmon Tree
Growing American persimmon trees might be a better choice for gardeners who wish to add beauty to their landscape without too much maintenance.
As with the Asian persimmon varieties, the American persimmons are resistant to both insect infestations and diseases.
These trees are considered easy to grow and are low maintenance. They usually grow smaller than the Asian varieties.
The tree takes between 4-9 years to produce fruit. And the tree never goes fully dormant, blooming in the spring and summer, with an available harvest in the fall and winter.
Most American persimmons won’t grow above 20 feet in height, although some are known to reach as tall as 60 feet. The spread ranges between 20-35 feet.
The best-growing conditions for the American persimmon are full sun or partial shade, with clay, loam, or sandy soil. It prefers soil of neutral pH value with good drainage that is moist to dry occasionally.
When planting, plan to space the trees 24-60 feet apart.
For more information on growing the persimmon tree, visit our post on How Fast Does a Persimmon Tree Grow.
Variations of the American Persimmon
These orange fruits are usually free of blemishes and are known to be particularly sweet. It’s considered to be a cool hardy tree. The Killen is also known to be adaptable to a variety of different soils and is wind tolerant.
The Dollywood produces large, high-quality fruit. The tree is known for its drooping branches, unlike other American persimmon varieties.
These American persimmons are large, attractive fruits with a strong flavor that averages 2 inches around. The bark of John Rick is usually dark brown. The autumn-colored leaves are yellow-green or reddish purple. This tree is not intended for a smaller backyard.
All You Needed to Know Persimmon Tree Types
That concludes our dive into the U.S.’s two most common persimmon tree types! Ask your local grocer if they carry the Asian or American persimmon, and see for yourself if it truly is a divine fruit!
Visit our Persimmon Trees parent page to find more information about Persimmons.