Fall Leaf Color – Persimmon

Diospyros virginiana

Family – Benicia – Ebony

The Persimmon leaf turns a golden yellow in autumn, but usually does not stay on the tree very long after turning. It is a small tree, appearing throughout the southern states, mostly east of the Mississippi River. It appears as far west as eastern Texas, north as far as southern Illinois, Indiana and Ohio.

The Persimmon’s main claim to fame is the small fruit it bears in the fall. It ripens after the first frosts. When ripe, it is sweet with a taste somewhat like a cross between a sweet potato and pumpkin. Numerous country recipes are made from this fruit, including persimmon pudding, a true delicacy. The fruit must be mushy when eaten. If eaten before it ripens, it is guaranteed to pucker the taster up real good. You will not ever have tasted anything so sour as an unripe persimmon.

The leaf is smooth, oval, pointed at the top. The bark is deeply furrowed and very dark. The tree grows to around sixty feet tall. Sometimes it is more shrubby than treelike. It is biggest in the Mississippi River Valley. It will usually be found growing with sycamore, red and sugar maples, red cedar, yellow poplar, hickory and many types of oaks.

The persimmon is a valuable tree to have in the woodland. The fruit is eaten by a great variety of wildlife, including white tailed deer, raccoons, opossums, foxes, some birds and many different types of rodents.

It also provides a tasty treat for people, if they can wait for the fruit to ripen properly.