Texas Persimmons

George Ray McEachern and B.G. Hancock
Extension Horticulturists
Texas A&M University
College Station, TX 77843-2134
January 27, 1997

Persimmons are small, easy to grow trees which are adapted to most of Texas. The tree, leaves, and fruit are free from serious insect and disease problems which makes it an excellent dooryard specimen. It requires no sprays and is a favorite organic or health fruit. Mature trees can reach a height of 40 feet while some remain shrubs less than 10 feet. They produce prolific crops of very attractive fruit during the fall season when few fruits are ripe. The fruit is very delicious and is high in Vitamin A.

The common American Persimmon, Diospyrus virginiana, grows wild across the south and as far west as the Colorado River in Texas. Small groves of American persimmon are very common in abandoned pastures along fence rows. This fruit is quite different from the cultivated oriental persimmon, being small and very astringent until completely ripe. These wild persimmons cannot be eaten until after the first frost and all the leaves have fallen from the tree. Even at this late date some fruit can still be very astringent. Wild animals, such as the possum and raccoon, feed heavily upon the common American persimmon. Persimmon wood is very hard and is used for manufacturing golf clubs. The common American persimmon is an excellent rootstock for the cultivated oriental persimmons in the south and in Texas.

The oriental persimmon, Diospyrus kaki, was introduced into the United States in the late 1800’s from China and Japan. It is native to and has been an important fruit crop in each of these countries for hundreds of years. The fruit is eaten both fresh and dried. In northern China, certain valleys are cultivated exclusively for oriental persimmons. On the main island of Japan, groups of trees are found in every village, along the roadsides, or around farmers’ cottages.

Varieties of oriental persimmon trees are discussed below. Nurseries in Texas and Florida cannot meet the demand for oriental persimmon trees.

Eureka is a heavy producing, medium-sized, flat-shaped, red persimmon of extremely high fruit quality. The tree is relatively small and self-fruitful. The fruit contains seed; however, seedless fruit can be obtained. Eureka has proven to be the best commercial variety in Texas.

Hachiya is a productive, large, cone-shaped, seedless persimmon with bright orange skin. The tree is vigorous and upright. Hachiya has been an outstanding Texas variety since as early as 1984. This variety makes an excellent dual purpose fruit-ornamental specimen.

Tane-nashi is a moderately productive, cone-shaped, orange-colored persimmon. The tree is vigorous and upright. The fruit store extremely well on the tree and is seedless. Tane-nashi make an excellent landscape ornamental.

Tamopan is a moderately productive, very large, orange, flat-shaped persimmon with a distinctive ring construction near the middle of the fruit. The tree is the most vigorous and upright of the varieties grown in Texas.

Fuyu (Fuyugaki) is a medium-sized, non-astringent, self-fruitful persimmon. The fruit is rather flattened, red-colored, and of high quality. It is best planted in the milder areas of the state as it is susceptible to freeze damage.

Figure 1.
Click image for larger view.