UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
AGRICULTURAL EXPERIMENT STATION
Wilmon Newell, Director
THE JAPANESE PERSIMMON
By A. F. CAMP AND HAROLD MOWRY
Fig. 139.-A fine specimen
of the Tanenashi variety.
Bulletins will be sent free upon application to the
Agricultural Experiment Station
BOARD OF CONTROL
P. K. YONGE, Chairman, Pensacola
E. W. LANE, Jacksonville
A. H. BLENDING, Leesburg
W. B. DAVIS, Perry
FRANK J. WIDEMAN, W. Palm Beach
J. T. DIAMOND, Secretary, Talla-
J. G. KELLUM, Auditor, Tallahassee
STATION EXECUTIVE STAFF
JOHN J. TIGERT, M.A.,LL.D., President
WILMON NEWELL, D. Sc., Director
S. T. FLEMING, A.B., Asst. Director
J. FRANCIS COOPER, M. S. A., Editor
ERNEST G. MOORE, M. S., Asst. Ed
IDA KEELING CRESAP, Librarian
RUBY NEWHALL, Secretary
K. H. GRAHAM, Business Manager
RACHEL MCQUARRIE, Accountant
MAIN STATION-DEPARTMENTS AND INVESTIGATORS
W. E. STOKES, M. S., Agronomist
W. A. LEUKEL, Ph. D., Asso.
C. R. ENLOW, M. S. A., Asst.*
FRED H. HULL, M. S. A., Asst.
A. L. SHEALY, D.V.M., Veterinarian,
D. A. SANDERS, D.V.M., Asst. Vet.
E. F. THOMAS, D.V.M., Asst. Vet.
R. B. BECKER, Ph.D., Asso. in Dairy
C. R. DAWSON, B. S. A., Asst. Dairy
W. N. NEAL, Ph. D., Asst. in Ani-
R. W. RUPRECHT, Ph.D., Chemist
R. M. BARNETTE, Ph. D., Asso.
C. E. BELL, M. S., Asst.
H. L. MARSHALL, M. S., Asst.
J. M. COLEMAN, B. S., Asst.
J. B. HESTER, B. S., Asst.
W. A. CARVER, Ph. D., Asst.
M. N. WALKER, Ph. D., Asst.
E. F. GROSSMAN, M. A., Asst.
RAYMOND CROWN, B.S.A., Field Asst.
C. V. NOBLE, Ph. D., Ag. Economist
BRUCE MCKINLEY, A.B., B.S.A., Asst.
M. A. BROKER, M. S. A., Asst.
R. H. HOWARD, B.S.A., Field Asst.
JOHN L. WANN, B. S. A., Asst.
OUIDA DAVIS ABBOTT, Ph. D.. Chief
L. W.' GADDUM, Ph. D., Asst.
C. F. AHMANN, Ph. D., Asst.
J. R. WATSON, A. M., Entomologist
A. N. TISSOT, M. S., Asst.
H. E. BRATLEY, M. S. A., Asst.
A. F. CAMP, Ph. D., Horticulturist
M. R. ENSIGN, M. S.. Asst.
HAROLD MOWRY, B. S. A., Asst.
G. H. BLACKMON, M. S. A., Pecan
W. B. TISDALE, Ph. D., Plant Path.
G. F. WEBER, Ph. D., Asso.
A. H. EDDINS, Ph. D., Asst.
K. W. LOUCKS, B. S., Asst.
ERDMAN WEST, B. S., Mycologist
BRANCH STATION AND FIELD WORKERS
Ross F. WADKINS, M. S., Lab. Asst. in Plant Pathology (Quincy)
JESSE REEVES, Foreman, Tobacco Experiment Station (Quincy)
J. H. JEFFERIES, Superintendent, Citrus Experiment Station (Lake Alfred)
W. A. KUNTZ, A. M., Assistant Plant Pathologist (Lake Alfred)
J. FRANKLIN FUDGE, Ph. D., Assistant Chemist (Lake Alfred)
GEO. E. TEDDER, Foreman, Everglades Experiment Station (Belle Glade)
R. V. ALLISON, Ph. D., Soils Specialist (Belle Glade)
L. O. GRATZ, Ph. D., Associate Plant Pathologist (Hastings)
A. N. BROOKS, Ph. D., Associate Plant Pathologist (Plant City)
A. S. RHOADS, Ph. D., Associate Plant Pathologist (Cocoa)
STACY O. HAWKINS, M. A., Field Assistant in Plant Pathology (Homestead)
D. G. A. KELBERT, Field Assistant in Plant Pathology (Bradenton)
R. E. NOLEN, M. S. A., Field Assistant in Plant Pathology (Monticello)
FRED W. WALKER, Assistant Entomologist (Monticello)
*In cooperation with U. S. Department of Agriculture,
THE JAPANESE PERSIMMON IN FLORIDA
By A. F. CAMP AND HAROLD MOWRY
Note: The manuscript for this bulletin was written prior to April 6,
1929, when the Mediterranean fruit fly was discovered in Florida. The Jap-
anese persimmon is a host of the fruit fly, and readers of the bulletin
should bear this in mind.-Editor.
The Japanese' persimmon (Diospyros kaki L.) has been grown
in Florida for over fifty years. Although the fruit has not be-
come a staple commercial product, the acreage has slowly in-
creased until at the present time there are approximately 850
acres, comprising a total of about 88,000 trees of both bearing
and non-bearing ages. The production for the year 1927 was
13,475 crates, having a valuation of $42,380.'
Climatic and soil conditions obtaining in Florida evidently
are quite favorable to the growth of the tree, as bearing trees
are to be found in nearly every county of the state, though ap-
parently somewhat better adapted to the more northern por-
tions of the state. A lack of concentration of plantings and the
absence of any organization for handling and advertising the
fruit has been largely responsible for unsatisfactory returns to
shippers. Sporadic shipments to northern markets with no ef-
fort made to maintain a steady supply or demand in any one
market have and will continue to bring widely fluctuating re-
turns. Considering that there are no standard Florida brands
or varieties well known to the market and that the public gen-
erally is unacquainted with this fruit, it cannot be fairly ex-
pected that fancy prices will consistently be received for small,
Most of the difficulties encountered by growers in the past
can be attributed to a few causes that deal with both production
and marketing. Production troubles have been due mainly to
the planting of a multiplicity of varieties and a lack of knowl-
edge concerning the peculiar pollination requirements. The
lack of knowledge on the part of buyers as to what should con-
stitute a prime fruit, and a lack of organization in selling have
been the major obstacles in marketing.
Growers have planted small acreages of numerous varieties,
'Also commonly termed Kaki or Oriental persimmon.
'Nineteenth Crop Census, Florida State Department of Agriculture.
Florida Agricultural Experiment Station
some of which, due mainly to size or flesh color, were entirely
unsuited to marketing purposes. In many plantings the trees
have failed to mature fruit satisfactorily, due either to a light
set of fruit in the first place or to a heavy dropping of immature
fruit following setting. In other cases some supposedly light-
fleshed varieties have ripened as dark or mixed-fleshed fruits
unsuitable to the market. These troubles arose mainly from a
failure to provide for proper pollination and it was not until
1914 that exhaustive studies by Hume determined the cause
and outlined a basis for scientific planting.
Plantings generally have been small and as a consequence
fruit has seldom been produced in quantity sufficient to provide
for large or regular shipments. This situation has not permitted
an organization of the growers which would provide for proper
marketing and advertising. The consuming public, not being
familiar with the Japanese persimmon and after attempting to
eat the fruit while immature and yet highly astringent, has been
deterred from further purchases by the highly undesirable puck-
ery effect resulting. This ignorance of the desirable quality of
ripe fruit might be easily overcome by educational advertising.
Larger acreages, within limited areas, would result in a stead-
ier supply to the market, a more uniform pack and grade, and
an opportunity for effective advertising at small cost to the in-
dividual producer. When these conditions are fulfilled the char-
acter of the fruit is such that a satisfactory demand should fol-
low naturally. In the meantime a few growers, putting up a
uniform pack and grade and catering to special markets will
find this fruit a profitable crop.
There is but one widely distributed American species of the
persimmon (Diospyros virginiana L.), this species being a na-
tive of the central and southern portion of the eastern United
States. The fruit of this species is small and seedy and very
"puckery" until fully ripe. It has been used as food by both
the Indians and whites but has never come into the high favor
in this country that the Japanese persimmon has enjoyed in
The Japanese persimmon has been known in China and Japan
for many centuries and is regarded there as a staple fruit,
American observers considering its role in those countries to
Bulletin 205, The Japanese Persimmon in Florida 529
be on a par with that of the apple in this country. The first in-
troduction of the Japanese persimmon into this country came
as a direct result of Commodore M. C. Perry's visit to Japan in
1856. Seed sent back by his expedition were planted at the
Naval Observatory in Washington, but the seedling trees were
subsequently frozen out before any had been distributed. Later
importations of seed, including some brought back by Saunders,
in 1863, experienced a similar fate. :-
In 1870 the Department of Agriculture imported a number
of grafted trees and some of these, together with many trees
imported by individuals during the next few years, were sent to
the Southern states where they were -found to grow well in
many localities. Following the successful growth of these early
introductions many individuals imported trees in considerable
numbers until all such importations were stopped by the Fed-
eral quarantine in 1919.
Very little information is available concerning the early
spread of this fruit in the south. Two nurserymen, P. J. Berck-
mans, of Augusta, Georgia, and G. L. Taber, of Glen St. Mary,
Florida, did a great deal to advance the early spread of this
fruit and carried on careful studies of varieties and the cul-
tural requirements of the trees. It remained, however, for H.
Harold Hume to straighten out the difficulties which had been
encountered in pollination and to put the variety situation upon
a sound basis and his work may be said to be of preeminent im-
portance to the persimmon industry in this country.
The varietal names in use in America represent an approxi-
mation of the Asiatic names by which the original importation
was designated or purely American names applied to selected
seedlings propagated in this country. In no case do our varietal
names correspond, as far as we know, to any widely distributed
clonal varieties' of similar name in the orient. The varietal
names there apparently are more or less localized and probably
apply to types rather than being restricted to clonal varieties.
This is the natural result of the lack of widespread communica-
tion in the Asiatic countries. In addition to the above difficul-
ties in designating varieties, the ignorance of the Japanese and
Chinese languages in this country led to peculiar adaptations
of the names supposed to be attached to importations, so that
'A clonal variety is a variety originating from a single bud or scion
and continuously propagated vegetatively, i.e. by budding, grafting, or
Florida Agricultural Experiment Station
the name applied in this country may actually not resemble
very closely any oriental terminology. There are now in this
country a large number of varieties, with Asiatic or pseudo-
Asiatic names, as well as some with truly American names,
whose characteristics are well defined and whose standing as
well established varieties in this country is above criticism.
CHARACTER AND VALUE OF THE FRUIT OF
The persimmon is probably the best known staple fruit in
China and Japan, and the genus furnishes wood and a dye in
addition to the edible fruit. The generic name Diospyros liter-
ally means "food of the gods" and indicates the esteem in which
the fruit is held in those countries where it is well known. The
flavor of the fruit is excellent and compares favorably with any
of the fruits known in this country. Its food value is very high
and analyses show an average sugar content higher than that
of many of the common fruits such as peaches, apricots, oranges,
etc. The following figures compiled from various sources are
typical of many analyses of the common fruits:
Percentage of total sugar
Fruit in whole fruit
A pples .............. ..... .. ........ ................. 9 to 10
Cherries ..................................... .. ..... ....... 10 to 11
Strawberries .............................................................. 5 to 6
Oranges ... ........................... ... .. ... 4 to 9
Grapefruit ................... .... ........................ 5 to 8
Japanese Persimmons ................................. 14 to 18
It should be noted that the amount of sugar exceeds that found
in most of the common fruits and that all of the sugar is in the
form of dextrose (glucose), this having a particular bearing
upon its dietary value.
Most of the varieties of Japanese persimmons, as well as the
native persimmons, are astringent (puckery) until fully ripe,
although some, particularly the dark-fleshed oriental varieties,
do not have this quality. This astringency is due to the pres-
ence of soluble tannin compounds in the flesh of the fruit.
This astringent characteristic does not disappear in most varie-
ties until the fruit is fully ripe and it is thought that at that
stage the tannin is combined with some colloidal carrier, with
which it is associated, to form insoluble tannin bodies which do
Bulletin 205, The Japanese Persimmon in Florida 531
not have an astringent effect.' In the case of some of the non-
astringent varieties the tannin usually undergoes an oxidation
before ripening with a resulting loss of astringency so that
the fruits may be eaten while still hard. This lack of astringency
is associated usually with the dark-fleshed types, though the
Fuyu and some others remain non-astringent and light fleshed,
even when pollinated.
The astringency can be eliminated by the use of various arti-
ficial methods of ripening. In the Orient, persimmons are com-
monly processed by one of various methods and go onto the mar-
ket non-astringent though still more or less firm. The fruits
while still hard are frequently packed in freshly emptied sak6
(rice-beer) tubs and covered over so that the fumes from the
alcohol left in the walls of the tub can act upon them. This
method of ripening requires from 10 to 15 days and when prop-
erly done the fruit will still be fairly hard at the end of that
period, though completely non-astringent. Experiments in this
country showed that similar results could be obtained by pack-
ing the persimmons in barrels, the walls of which had been
moistened with alcohol just before the packing. Under these
conditions the astringency disappeared entirely and the fruit
was of a very excellent flavor, but not in first class condition
for long distance shipment.
The hard persimmons are also subjected to the fumes of an
incense burner in a closed space. The fruit is placed in a large
stone jar with a perforated bamboo cylinder in the center in
which a stick of incense is allowed to burn. The fruits when
ripened by this method are usually quite soft and have to be
consumed within a very short time.' The active principle in this
method appears to be carbon dioxide. Fruits treated with this
gas, in experiments in this country, ripened very rapidly with
a consequent loss of astringency.
According to still another method, fruits are soaked in lime
water made up of 1 part of lime to 10 parts of water. The time
required varies from two to ten days, depending upon the var-
iety and the state of maturity of the fruit. Fruits when treated
by this process are firm but juicy and entirely non-astringent.
They are covered with a white bloom of lime which is very care-
'Lloyd, Francis E. The behavior of tanin in persimmons. Plant World
'McClure, F. A. Notes on persimmons in Kwangtung. Lingnaam Agr.
Review 3:2 91-98, pls. 10.
..Floridq ,Agricultural Experiment Station
fully kept intact when persimmons are handled in this manner
in the Orient. According to McClure, persimmons ripened by
this method are classed in China as hard persimmons, while
those ripened by the smothering method are called soft persim-
mons. It is doubtful, however, if fruit ripened by the lime wa-
ter method would carry as well as untreated fruit, so that the
use of such a method would be indicated at the marketing rather
than the growing end.
Recent experiments by Overholser" and others have indicated
that ethylene and other gases also will remove the astringency
and it is quite possible that methods could be worked out for
treating fruit on a commercial scale by the use of this or other
methods. Up to the present time, however, fruits have not been
placed upon the market after treatment by any of these methods,
so that it is not known whether the persimmon could be popular-
ized in this country by that method. The general tendency has
been to search for varieties, such as the Fuyu, which are not
astringent when hard and to extend the plantings of these in
preference to the astringent varieties.
The fruits are also dried in the Orient, this being accomplished
by cutting the fruits from the tree with a small "T" shaped
piece of the twig attached to them. These fruits are then peeled,
attached together in strings, hung up in direct sunlight and al-
lowed to dry. Varieties with firm flesh, such as the Tanenashi,
are favored for this purpose. Experiments by the United States
Department of Agriculture' have shown that they can be dried
readily at 1220F. in the standard evaporator and that the dark-
ening of the flesh during this process can be prevented by steam-
ing the fruit before drying. Thus far the dried fruit has not
been marketed in this country. When fruit is dried for home
consumption it should be peeled with a nickeled or stainless steel
knife to avoid staining the flesh.
The persimmon belongs to a family of plants that is very
widely distributed in the tropics but with a relatively small
number of species in the temperate countries. This family, the
"Overholser, E. L. Some studies upon ripening and removal of astrin-
gency in Japanese persimmons. ,proc. Am. Soc. Hort. c;i,1927:256-266.
'Gore, H. C. Large scale experiments on the processing of Japanese
persimmons. U.S.D.A. Bur. Chem. Bul. 155:1-20. 1912.
, Meyer, F. N. U.S.D.A. Yearbook 1915:212-214.
Bulletin,205, The Japanese Persimmon in Florida 533
Ebenaceae, includes the ebony of commerce and other tropical
plants of commercial value for wood and dyes. The persimmon
belongs to the genus Diospyros which includes some 200 species,
most of which are tropical or subtropical in requirements.
D. virginiana L., the common American persimmon, grows
wild in a wide belt across the southern United States. The fruit
of this species is used for food, though it is of small commercial
value. Other species occurring in this country and Mexico are
of little importance. In the Orient the so-called "Japanese per-
simmon" (Diospyros kaki L. f.) is the most important species
and the one in which we are particularly interested. While its
common name would indicate Japanese origin, it is probably a
native of China, its common name coming through the fact that
it was first imported into this country from Japan. The use of
the term "Oriental persimmon" might be considered more near-
ly correct. Another species, D. lotus L., is found in northern
China, Japan and other parts of Asia. Its chief interest, from
the American standpoint lies in its potential use as a rootstock
for the cultivated forms of D. kaki in some of the areas in which
this fruit is grown, since it gives promise of being superior to
some of the rootstocks now in use." Most of the remaining mem-
bers of the genus are distinctly tropical.
The plants of the genus Diospyros are either deciduous or
evergreen, and vary from shrubs to large trees. The leaves are
alternate, entire, usually leathery and without stipules. The
whitish flowers are borne in the leaf axils, the pistillate flowers
usually solitary and the staminate in few to many flowered
cymes. The calyx and corolla are mostly 4-lobed, the corolla be-
ing companulate or urceolate in shape. The stamens vary from
4 to 16, with 4 to 8 staminodia in the pistillate flowers. The
ovary is 4 to 16 celled; fruit is a large, juicy berry with 0 to 10
seeds; the seeds are large, brown and flattened.
D. virginiana, the common American persimmon, varies from
a shrubby tree with somewhat willowy growth to an upright
tree 30 to 50 feet high. The foliage is glossy green, the leaves
ovate or elliptic, 2 to 5 inches long and 1 to 3 inches wide. The
trees are usually dioecious, i.e., the staminate flowers (pollen
bearing flowers) are borne on separate trees from the pistillate
flowers (fruit producing flowers). The staminate flowers,
'Some of the wild forms of Japanese persimmons (D. kaki var. silvestris
Mak.) are used in the Orient as rootstocks for the cultivated varieties of
the same species.
Florida Agricultural Experiment Station
borne in groups of threes, are four lobed, urn shaped, and of a
white or greenish-white color. The pistillate flowers, solitary
in the leaf axils, are 1/4 to 3/ inches in length and closely re-
semble the staminate flowers in shape and color. The fruit, 1
to 2 inches in diameter, is subglobose to oblate (flattened at the
base and apex) with many flat seeds (8 to 10) and with a com-
paratively small amount of flesh. The flesh is yellow to red in
Fig. 140.-Young tree of the Tanenashi variety. Note the type of growth.
color when ripe and varies from a granular or pasty to a cus-
tard-like texture. When green the fruit is very astringent; it
must be fully ripe before it is edible.
The species is distributed from Connecticut to Florida and
eastward to Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas. A number of se-
lected seedlings have been named and described by nursery-
Bulletin 205, The Japanese Persimmon in Florida 535
men, these including such varieties as the Ford, Early Golden,
Glidewell, Hicks, Josephine and others. None of these varieties
is grown commercially in Florida at the present time, the value
of the species in this area lying in its use as a rootstock for D.
D. kaki is a tree growing up to 40 feet in height, but not at-
taining this height in Florida, usually with a roundish crown,
but varying from a willowy to an upright habit of growth, fre-
quently of an irregular shape due to the breaking of limbs from
overbearing. The leaves are obovate to elliptic-ovate, but very
variable in the different varieties, glossy green above and with
Fig. 141.-Flowers of the Japanese persimmon. The small flower at the
left is staminate (male) and the remaining flowers are pistillate (female).
a slight pubescence on the under surface. Three kinds of flow-
ers are borne: perfect flowers having both stamens and pistil,
pistillate flowers having a pistil and no stamens, and staminate
flowers having stamens but no pistil. The fact that one or more
of these types of flowers may be borne on any one tree led to
considerable difficulty in the early classification of Japanese per-
simmons. Later Hume' worked out the flowering characteristics
'Hume, H. Harold, Planting persimmons. Jour. of Heredity 5:131-138,
1914. Also Hume, H. Harold, Non fruiting of Japanese persimmons due
to lack Pollen, Science U. S. 30:308-309, 1909.
Florida Agricultural Experiment Station
very carefully and showed that there were three groups of varie-
ties. In one group only pistillate flowers are borne and varie-
ties of this type are characterized as pistillate constants. In a
second group both pistillate and staminate flowers are borne
regularly and these varieties are designated as staminate con-
stants. In a third group pistillate flowers are borne and occa-
sionally staminate flowers, and this group is characterized as
The first group, pistillate constants, includes most of our
common commercial varieties, such as Tanenashi, Hachiya and
Tamopan. Some varieties in this group commonly have no
seeds in the fruit and bear fruit without pollination. In other
varieties the fruits are usually seedy and pollination is neces-
sary for the setting of fruit. With these last varieties it is
necessary to interplant trees from the group of staminate con-
stants, the variety Gailey being commonly used because of the
profusion of staminate flowers borne by it. The native persim-
mon will not cross with the Japanese persimmon and conse-
quuently cannot be used as a source of pollen for plantings of
In California the pollination problem is apparently less im-
portant. than it is in Florida. This may come about partially
through the fact that the Hachiya, which will bear fruit with-
out pollination, is the principal commercial variety, and that
two other varieties that are grown to some extent, the Tane-
nashi and Tamopan, fall in the same group.
Attempts to classify varieties according to fruit characteris-
tics proved unsatisfactory until Hume" completed his pollina-
tion experiments which showed the differences that might exist
between fruits resulting from pollinated and unpollinated flow-
ers. It had been noted that some varieties had light fleshed fruit
while others had fruit with a dark flesh, while still other varie-
ties appeared to show an intermediate condition, having a flesh
that was part dark and part light. To make the matter still
more complicated a tree might bear fruits which were either
"3Hume, H. H. A kaki classification. Jour. Heredity 5:400-406, figs. 6-11,
Bulletin 205, The Japanese Persimmon in Florida 537
totally light or totally dark fleshed while still other fruits on
the same tree would show only partial darkening.
Hume's work in clearing up this situation showed that the
persimmon varieties could be classed into two groups. In the
first group the fruit was light fleshed whether it bore seeds or
not and these varieties he called pollination constants." The sec-
ond group was found to be made up of varieties which had a
fruit that was light fleshed when seedless (unpollinated) but
dark fleshed when seedy (pollinated), and these varieties were
called pollination variants since the color of the flesh depended
upon whether or not the flower producing the fruit was polli-
nated. In some varieties in this group a fruit with only one
seed in it will have a dark area around that seed, but the remain-
ing flesh may be light; or, if there are only two seeds side by
side, that side of the fruit will have dark flesh and the remainder
of the flesh will be light; two seeds oppositely placed will usually
color all the pulp. This led to the early classification, which labeled
these fruits "mixed fleshed" and it was not until after Hume's
later work that it was noted that this darkening was variable
and depended upon the number and location of the seeds.
In the following table the varieties that are grown in this
state are classified under Hume's two groups, the important
commercial varieties being in black type.
POLLINATION CONSTANTS POLLINATION VARIANTS
Light-fleshed whether seedless or Light-fleshed when seedless,
seedy Dark-fleshed when seedy.
Fuyu (gaki) Godbey
Tanenashi Taber's 129
Tamopan Taber's 23
Tsuru Yeddo Ichi
It will be noted that the first group, the pollination constants,
includes the common commercial varieties in both Florida and
"Some varieties of the Japanese persimmon will develop fruits that
are normal as to size and shape when the bloom is not pollinated and these
fruits are seedless. This sort of development is not uncommon in cultivated
fruits, and a number of seedless fruits develop in this manner. In most
fruits, however, pollination is necessary to fruit setting; and this is the
case in some of the varieties of persimmons, though it is often possible
to get an occasional unpollinated bloom to set and develop fruit. The
Hachiya and Tanenashi apparently set fruit readily without pollination;
and almost all of the fruit of these varieties going on the market is seed-
less, though an occasional seedy fruit is found.
Florida Agricultural Experiment Station
California, i.e., the Tanenashi, Hachiya, Tamopan and Fuyu. Of
these the first three are ordinarily seedless, though they may
occasionally show one or more seeds, while the Fuyu is seedy.
In the second group there are no varieties of present commercial
importance, since the market so far has not been disposed to ac-
cept dark fleshed fruits freely. In this group, however, are the
varieties which commonly bear large numbers of staminate
flowers, and it is from this group that pollinators are picked
for mixed plantings. For this purpose the Gailey variety has
been found highly satisfactory and one or two other varieties
have been recently proposed.
Dark fleshed fruits of some varieties are non-astringent when
hard, although fruits of the same variety will be astringent
when seedless and light fleshed. If the prejudice against the
dark fleshed fruit could be overcome this non-astringent quality
would prove highly desirable, since the buyer who is unfamiliar
with persimmons and who purchases his first persimmons on
the market and samples them before they are properly ripened
quite frequently fails to buy again. It was thought for a long time
that there were some non-astringent light fleshed varieties
grown in China and Japan and an effort has been made to
bring them into this country. It was found, however, that when
these varieties were moved from one locality to another their
characteristics might change. As for instance the Tamopan,
which is said to be entirely non-astringent in many localities in
China, is consistently astringent in Florida until fully ripe. At
the present time the Fuyu appears to be the only light fleshed
consistently non-astringent variety available in this country
and for that reason it is being recommended as a market va-
riety. Until it has been thoroughly proven, both in the field and
on the market, however, it cannot be recommended, unqualified-
ly, for the planting of large acreages.
Two varieties now monopolize commercial production, the
Tanenashi in Florida, and the Hachiya in California. The
Tanenashi is grown to a certain extent in California, but the
Hachiya seemingly does not do well under Florida conditions,
bearing very light crops. The Tamopan has been grown in both
California and Florida and the fact that it is seedless and of a
peculiar shape has made it popular with some growers. The
quality of its fruit, in the opinion of many, does not approxi-
mate that of either the Hachiya or Tanenashi.
Bulletin 205, The Japanese Persimmon in Florida 539
Both the Tanenashi and the Hachiya are ordinarily seedless,
which is a highly desirable characteristic in marketing. The
Hachiya has a custard like flesh while that of the Tanenashi is
of a peculiarly pasty consistency which is a distinguishing char-
Fig. 142-Fruit of the Costata variety (four-fif.hs natural size).
acteristic of the variety. The quality of the latter is excellent
and it is particularly adapted to drying as well as eating as a
dessert with sugar and cream. As far as Florida is concerned,
the Tanenashi is a proven variety that has all the desirable mar-
ket characteristics enumerated above and which is known to be
prolific and to grow well throughout most of Florida. The Tamo-
pan should have a limited market demand but its extremely
juicy and soft flesh is not relished by all consumers. It has a
peculiar shape, however, which will enable those who prefer it
540 : Florida Agricultural Experiment Station
to distinguish it from other persimmons. If the Fuyu continues
to prove satisfactory in growth and quality it is quite likely thAt
it will be a leading commercial variety in that it is non-astrin-
gent and edible while still hard. This variety is also being
grown in California and is certain to have an extensive trial
upon the market in the very near future.
Fig. 143.-Fruit of the Fuyu (Fuyugaki) variety (two-thirds
For home planting the dark fleshed varieties stand on a par
with the light fleshed varieties and some of them are non-astrin-
gent and of fairly good eating quality while still hard. Below is
given a list of persimmon varieties in the order in which they
ordinarily ripen so that those desiring a home planting may
pick varieties calculated to give a continual supply of fruit over
a long season. It should be noted in this connection that one tree
of Gailey, or other heavy bearer of staminate flowers, should
be interplanted to every eight trees of other varieties. For home
plantings the following varieties will give a supply of ripening
Bulletin 205, The Japanese Persimmbn in Florida 541
fruit from August to October, the varieties ripening in approxi-
mately the order named.
Fig. 144.-Fruit of the Gailey variety (natural size).
Three general shapes of persimmons are recognized. The
conical shape, which is represented by the Tanenashi and in
which the fruits are longer than broad and tend to come to a
Florida Agricultural Experiment Station
point at the apex; the roundish type, represented typically by
Taber's No. 23, in which the fruit is fairly round and only
slightly flattened at the apex, and the oblate type in which the
fruit is tomato shaped or flattened, the Triumph and Fuyu be-
Fig. 145.-Fruit of the Hachiya variety.
Below will be found brief descriptions of the various varieties
grown in this state arranged alphabetically according to variety.
Costata-Fruit conical, pointed, size medium to large, 21/4 by
21/ inches. Skin reddish to deep red on ripening, with heavy
bloom. Flesh firm, granular, whitish yellow, astringent until
ripe, nearly seedless but occasionally with one or two long oval
seeds. Ripens October.
Fuyu (Fuyugaki)--Fruit oblate and pronouncedly flattened,
indistinctly quadrangular, size medium to large, usually about
Bulletin 205, The Japanese Persimmon in Florida 543
3 inches across. Skin smooth, glossy, deep tomato-red in color.
Flesh light orange, non-astringent even when hard so that it
can be peeled and eaten like an apple before it softens; flesh
firm when ripe and of good quality; ordinarily with few seed and
probably requiring pollination for bearing in Florida.
Fig. 146.-Fruit of the Nectar variety.
Introduced by the U. S. Department of Agriculture and dis-
tributed under S. P. I. numbers 26491, 32868 and 26773. There
is some difference of opinion as to these importations being iden-
tical. The first two were introduced under the name Fuyu and
the last as Fuyugaki. Probably the only one distributed in Flor-
Florida Agricultural Experiment Station
ida to any extent is the one introduced as Fuyugaki under S.P.I.
Fig. 147.-Fruit of the Okame variety (two-thirds natural size).
This fruit is highly recommended for planting at the present
time in both Florida and California on account of the high qual-
ity, good yields and the fact that it is non-astringent when still
Gailey-Fruit roundly-conical, slightly longer than broad,
very small. Skin dull red with pebbled surface. Flesh usually
very dark and seedy. This variety is not ordinarily recommended
for its fruit but is noteworthy for its production of staminate
flowers and is used as a source of pollen for those varieties
needing cross pollination to produce fruit.
Hachiya-Fruit oblong-conical with roundish apex and short
black point; very large, 3-31/ inches long. Skin glossy, deep
orange-red and very attractive, with grayish lines around apex.
Flesh deep yellow, firm and frequently of a custard-like consis-
tency, astringent until ripe; practically always seedless in Cali-
Bulletin 205, The Japanese Persimmon in Florida 545
fornia but frequently showing one or more seeds in Florida. This
fruit is of very high quality and by many is believed to be the
best of the varieties in this country. It is the standard commer-
cial variety in California and probably represents 95 percent of
the bearing acreage there. It has proven to be a shy bearer in
Florida and is not grown to any extent here.
Fig. 148.-Fruit of the variety Tabor's No. 23 (Natural size).
Hyakume-Fruits varying from roundish oblong to roundish
oblate, large (up to 3 inches long). Skin buff yellow to orange
and frequently netted about the apex. Flesh dark cinnamon,
firm, sometimes fibrous but of very pleasing quality. Season
Florida Agricultural Experiment Station
Nectar-Fruit oblong, pointed; small, 21/2 inches in length.
Skin smooth; reddish yellow when ripe. Flesh dark, sweet,
fairly firm and nearly always contains seeds.
Okame-Fruit round to oblate with well defined quarter
marks; medium to large, average about 2-21/4 inches long by
3 inches across. Skin orange-yellow to carmine when very ripe.
Fig. 149.-Fruit of the Tamopan variety (two-thirds natural size.).
Flesh light yellow with light brown center, tending to transpar-
ency as it becomes very ripe; astringent until it starts to ripen;
several seeds. Season October.
Ormond-Fruit oblong conical, small to medium, apex beaked
with four indistinct radiating lines at right angles. Skin smooth,
yellowish red with minute scattering dots and whitish bloom,
very tender. Flesh deep orange to red near center, meaty and
only moderately juicy, seedy ordinarily but usually with only 2
Bulletin 205, The Japanese Persimmon in Florida 547
or 3 seeds and frequently seedless; astringent until soft. Very
late November and December. Keeps exceedingly well. First
fruited in Volusia County as a graft from a small seedling sent
Taber's No. 23-Fruit round to oblate with flat or depressed
apex; small. Skin red with dotted effect. Flesh very dark and
speckled; sweet but tending to be stringy; seeds numerous, 8
to 10. Season September and October. An excellent home fruit
but rather small.
Fig. 150.-Fruiting limbs of the Tamopan with a heavy crop of fruit. The
limbs are willow-like and hang downward when carrying fruit.
Tamopan-Fruit oblate and very flat, marked by a deep con-
striction around the fruit near the stem end, as if two fruits
had been pushed together; very large, 3-5 inches across, single
specimens sometimes weighing a pound. Skin reddish-orange,
thick and tough. Flesh light orange, astringent until ripe, soft
and very juicy and sometimes stringy, always seedless. Tree
a very vigorous grower and very prolific; very tall and willowy.
This variety is used to some extent commercially but opinions
Florida Agricultural Experiment Station
vary as to the quality of the fruit which is quite soft and not
very rich. The fruits are said to be non-astringent when green
in some localities in China and Japan and from a few localities
in California but are always astringent in Florida as far as
Fig. 151.-Fruit of the Tanenashi variety.
Among various fruits there is a wide difference apparent in
the location of the constricting line about the fruit. Fruits
from some trees have this line almost exactly midway between
stem and apex while in others the position of the constriction is
at varying distances between this and the stem end. The posi-
Bulletin 205, Thl Japanese Persimmon in Florida 549
Fig. 152.-A cluster
of almost mature
fruits from a Tane-
nashi tree. Note
the bloom partially
rubbed from the
fruit in carrying.
tion of this "constric-
tion is usually the
same on fruits from a
given tree and it is
possible that more than
one variety or varietal strain has been introduced under the
Tanenashi-Fruit roundish conical with slightly pointed apex,
very large and symmetrical, 3-31/4 inches long and almost as
broad. Skin light yellow and very bright, until almost mature
when it changes to a brilliant light red. Flesh yellow, of a pe-
culiar pasty consistency and of very high quality, astringent
Florida Agricultural Experiment Station
until ripe, practically always seedless. Season September and
October. This is at present the standard commercial variety in
Florida and is grown to some extent commercially in California.
The trees are roundish in shape and bear very heavily under
Fig. 153.-Fruit of the Triumph variety (natural size).
Triumph-Fruit oblate and of pronounced tomato shape;
small, not over 21/2 inches across. Skin red or reddish-yellow
and frequently with grayish cracks around the apex. Flesh yel-
Bulletin 205, The Japanese Persimmon in Florida 551
low, firm, of good quality, astringent until ripe; usually with
few seeds. Season September to November, a good home fruit.
Tsuru-Fruit long, conical, the longest in proportion to size
of any of the varieties, large (21/ by 31/ inches). Skin bright
orange, reddening as it ripens, rather thick and glossy and with
heavy purple bloom when green. Flesh dark yellow, granular,
Fig. 154.-Fruit of the Yemon variety (two-thirds natural size.)
firm, astringent until very ripe and frequently ripening uneven-
ly, with few or no seeds. Ripens very late and is said to be a
great favorite in the Orient but not grown extensively in this
Yeddo-Ichi-Fruit round oblate, size medium, 2 to 21/ inches
in diameter. Skin red to tomato red, somewhat glossy and with
many dots and with pencilings around apex. Flesh dark cinna-
mon when seedy, sweet and tending to be granular; frequently
seedless and with light yellow flesh. Season October and No-
Florida Agricultural Experiment Station
Yemon-Fruit oblate and quadrangular with four furrows,
medium size with diameter of 2 to 3 inches. Skin orange red to
scarlet with heavy grayish bloom. Flesh yellow to red near
.periphery to cinnamon around seeds; very sweet and soft, seeds
none to several. Season late. Quality very good, but too soft for
handling and requiring pollination in Florida with consequent
Fig. 155.-Fruit of the Zengi variety (natural size).
Zengi-Fruit round or long oblate. Very small, diameter
about 11/4 inches, skin dark orange red, glossy and marked with
russeting around apex. Flesh very dark when seedy, almost
black, sweet and rich. Season very early but fruit too small for
Bulletin 205, The Japanese Persimmon in Florida
Fig. 156.-Fruit of the variety Tabor's No. 129 (natural size). This
variety is not described in the text.
Florida Agricultural Experiment Station
h A^^^^^^ A-^^^^^*^ .
Fig. 157.-Seeds of some of the common varieties of
persimmons. (Natural size.)
Bulletin 205, The Japanese Persimmon in Florida 555
PROPAGATION AND ROOTSTOCKS
In China and Japan the persimmon is grown as either seed-
lings or grafted trees. In some sections it has been found grafted
on D. lotus and some wild forms of D. kaki. It was found that
it did not make a thrifty growth when grown on its own root in
the Southern states and resort was had to the native persim-
mon, D. virginiana, as a rootstock. Subsequently D. lotus was
tested as a rootstock and found to be. very promising in Cali-
fornia, though it has not thrived so well in Florida, appearing
to be subject to some sort of root rot and highly susceptible to
crown gall infection. Practically all of the trees now.growing
in the southeastern United States are grafted on D. virginiana,
though this rootstock, while more satisfactory than the other
two mentioned, still falls short of. being a first class rootstock.
It is somewhat hard to transplant due to an extremely long and
large taproot with few fibrous roots; does not give long life to
the trees worked on it and may tend to dwarf the crop.
In China the kaki and lotus rootstocks produce large trees of
indefinite life but in the Southern states the life of a commer-
cial planting on the virginiana stock seldom exceeds 10 years
and may be less. There are many individual trees which are
much older than this but with the rootstocks used at present the
tree must be considered as being comparatively short-lived. The
trees come into bearing at an early age, however, usually the
second and third year after grafting.
Rootstocks are grown exclusively from seeds. The seeds are
gathered from mature fruits and either stratified in sand or
dried for planting the following season. Stratification is not
necessary to insure good germination. The seeds may be planted
directly in the nursery row but by planting in seedbeds and later
transplanting from bed to nursery, when the plants are several
inches in height, a better lateral root system is developed. The
plants should be set about 8 to 12 inches apart in the nursery
row with rows spaced 21/2 to 3 feet.
The persimmon is highly susceptible to crown gall infection,
the organism gaining entrance into the plant tissues through
lesions near the surface of the soil. As the graft union is usu-
ally made at or near this point it is highly advisable to locate
the nursery only on soils known to be free of the disease or on
newly cleared land.
556 Florida Agricultural Experiment Station
Seedlings will have attained sufficient size for grafting at
the end of one season's growth; the grafts, inserted then, ordi-
narily being large enough for permanent planting the next
winter. During the period of growth in the nursery row the
trees should be kept thoroughly cultivated. Two or three appli-
cations of a commercial fertilizer having a relatively high am-
monia content should be applied annually to both seedlings and
Grafting is the most satisfactory means of propagation, the
work being done during the dormant season, usually in January
and February. For
small seedling stock,
S having a caliper of one
inch or less, the whip
graft is employed, the
graft union being made
at or near the soil sur-
face. Root grafting is
not used. Scions should
be of the current sea-
S son's growth, of a di-
1/4 to 3/8 inch and from
4 to 6 inches in length,
having three or four
buds left intact. The
scion wood should be
cut just prior to use, if
possible, but may be
preserved in good con-
dition for an indefinite
period if taken from
dormant trees and kept
in moist sphagnum
T The whip graft is
Fig. 158.-Whip grafting. Stock and scion made by cutting off the
cut ready for fitting on left; fitted and stock near the soil sur-
tied on the right.
tied on the rightface, the cut being ob-
lique and from 3/4 to 11/2 inches in length. A "tongue" is made
by splitting the stock about 1/3 of the distance from the top of
the cut surface. The scion is cut in a like manner and the two
Bulletin 205, The Japanese Persimmon in Florida 557
fitted together, using care that cambium of stock and scion are
in close contact at least on one side. They are then tied tightly
with a few turns of waxed cotton string. The wound may be
entirely covered, by pulling soil to the plant, to prevent mois-
ture loss until a union is formed.
Cleft grafting is used on large stocks and in top-working. The
stock is cut off squarely, split cleanly through the center with
a grafting knife, and
are fitted into the
cleft with the cam-
bium on one side of
each in close contact
with the cambium of
the stock. The scions
should be tied in firm-
ly with a strong cord
and the wound cov-
ered with wax.
Budding may be
employed but usually
is not as successful
as grafting. In shield
budding, a long shield
bud is inserted in a T
or inverted T incision
made in the bark of
the stock, the whole
being wrapped with
waxed cloth. The
two scions, sharpened into long wedges,
Fig. 159.-Cleft grafting: a. scion; b. stock
split and scions inserted; c. scions tied and
wrapping is removed as soon as a union is formed, usually 10
days to two weeks after insertion. To prevent the free flow of
sap in the wound and its accumulation about the inserted bud,
a narrow strip of bark in the form of an inverted V may be re-
moved just above the point where the bud is inserted in the
stock. The stock is cut off just above the bud when the latter
starts growing. Budding is usually done during the late summer
just before bark tightens but may be performed as soon as the
bark will slip in early spring.
The practice of top-working old native seedlings in fields is
not recommended for commercial production of fruit. Such
trees are never spaced with any degree of uniformity which re-
sults in a waste of land and of labor if cultivation is practiced.
Florida Agricultural Experiment Station
The working over of these large trees entails considerable labor
with no assurance, even if the grafting operation be successful,
that the trees will live long enough to repay the involved ex-
pense. It would be better to plant young thrifty grafted stock
in regular orchard formation than to attempt the doubtful utili-
zation of large volunteer trees.
In handling trees in the nursery it is well to graft rather small
seedling trees and transplant them to the field before they be-
come very large. Under these conditions they transplant much
better than if they have been left to become large trees. A
major portion of the taproot should be left intact in digging, as
severe transplanting loss may.result from excessive root prun-
ing. Neither should the surface of the roots be allowed to be-
come dry by exposure to sun or wind as the drying of the roots
may also occasion considerable transplanting loss.
In this state the persimmon has been found to do best upon
the lighter soils which are well drained and which have a good
sub-soil, containing some clay, although clay is not absolutely
essential. This is perhaps in line with the natural growing hab-
its of the native persimmon which prefers well drained sandy
soil. Drainage is evidently more important than the texture of
the soil and persimmons should be planted only on those soils
which drain freely. A sandy loam with a clay subsoil and good
drainage appears to produce the best type of tree.
The trees are transplanted during the winter months-during
December, January and February. Early transplanting, prior to
January 1, usually is accompanied by better results than late
planting, since more opportunity is given for the winter rains
to settle the soil about the roots of the trees before the spring
dry season sets in.
Spacing distances vary from 15 x 15 feet to 20 x 20 feet, de-
pending somewhat upon the variety planted. Most of the varie-
ties will be found to grow satisfactorily under Florida conditions
with a spacing of 15 x 15 to 18 x 18 feet, as they do not make
as large trees as they sometimes do under their native condi-
tions in China. On the other hand it is possible in large com-
mercial groves to plant the trees 20 x 20 feet, or even a little
wider and interplant when the trees begin to die.
Bulletin 205, The Japanese Persimmon in Florida 559
Clean cultivation usually is given throughout the spring
months until the beginning of the rainy season. Such cultiva-
tion preferably should be shallow to avoid injury to the roots.
A cover crop of cowpeas, beggarweed, bush velvet beans, Crota-
laria," or other legume planted in the middles as soon as cultiva-
tion is stopped will prevent the depletion of organic matter in
the soil and thus will help the trees to maintain a vigorous
There is as yet no information from fertilizer experiments
available, but a satisfactory growth has been derived from the
use of the ordinary commercial fertilizers analyzing 4 to 6 per-
cent ammonia, 8 to 10 percent phosphoric acid and 3 to 6 per-
cent potash. As a general rule 1 pound of fertilizer per year
of age of the tree may be applied, i.e., a tree 4 years old would
receive 4 pounds. The fertilizer should be spread in a wide band
about the tree. The trees are usually fertilized in the spring,
about the time they start to leaf out, but it may be advantageous
to split the application, applying the second half about the first
Young trees should be headed back to 21/2 to 3 feet when plant-
ed and the young shoots later thinned to form a strong frame-
work. Five or six shoots should be left spaced over a foot or
more of the trunk and so arranged as to avoid bad crotches and to
form a well balanced head. Following the formation of a good
framework the trees are not usually pruned in Florida except to
remove dead, interfering or broken branches. In China, the
branches are thinned in such a way as to increase the amount
of potential fruiting wood, the fruiting wood of the current year
being heavily cut out in the process. This pruning has not been
found necessary in Florida, since the Tanenashi and other com-
mercial varieties usually bear heavily and thinning of the fruit
rather than an attempt at increasing production may be neces-
sary. With some varieties which grow very rapidly a certain
amount of heading back from time to time may be of advantage.
The Tamopan, for example, will grow upward very rapidly with
a willowy sort of growth which breaks easily under heavy loads
of fruit unless it is headed back or the limbs well braced when
In plantings of varieties requiring pollination one tree of the
Gailey or other variety producing an abundance of staminate
"Crotalaria sericea has been found to be very satisfactory as a cover
crop in many sections of the northern half of the state.
560 Florida Agricultural Experiment Station
-+ + 4- o + + + +
So + + + + + +
++ + + + + + +
+ + + + o + + +
+ o + + + + o +
+ + + + + + +
+ o + + + + + +
+ +o + + + + +
+ + + ++0 +
+ + + + 0 + + + +
+ o + ++ -+-++ o +-
Fig. 160.-Planting plan as proposed by Hume for varieties needing pollina-
tion. Circles represent interplanted trees of the Gailey variety.
Bulletin 205, The Japanese Persimmon in Florida 561
flowers should be interplanted with every eight trees of the pis-
tillate flowering type. The planting should follow a regular sys-
tem so as to space the staminate flowering trees regularly
throughout the grove. Figure 160 gives the planting system
proposed by Hume.
HANDLING THE FRUIT
In Florida the persimmon is shipped fresh, the fruits being
picked when they have attained a yellow to reddish color but are
still hard. They are clipped from the tree, leaving the calyx and
a very short piece of the stem intact on the fruit. Under no
circumstances should the fruits be pulled, nor should any be
shipped that have lost the calyx. The greatest care should be
used at all time to prevent bruising, as bruised fruit quickly
decays and will not withstand shipment. The fruits are indi-
vidually wrapped in paper and packed in baskets in the ordinary
6-basket peach crate, though sometimes the paper wrapping is
omitted. The number per basket varies with the size of the
fruit. In California the California peach crate is used, in which
the fruits are packed in two layers, the packed crate weighing
from 18 to 25 pounds; or a single layer crate is sometimes used
which is especially adapted to the larger varieties.
The ignorance of the consuming public concerning the stage
of ripeness at which persimmons should be consumed is the
greatest difficulty encountered in the marketing of this fruit at
the present time. Whenever the fruit is placed on the market
in large quantities a systematic campaign of education will have
to be waged to instruct the public as to when a persimmon
should be eaten. Distributors handling the fruit should be fully
informed, and in turn advise the consumer, as to the degree of
ripeness to be attained before the fruit should be eaten and in
addition it would be well to have this information printed on
the individual fruit wrappers, so that the consumer will be cer-
tain to receive first-hand information. This sort of advertising
must wait upon the development of large shipping centers, as
no one locality has been able to ship heavily to the northern
markets, present plantings being mostly small and more or less
widely scattered, thus making impossible a standardization of
variety and pack, the economical use of educational wrappers
for the fruit, or a general advertising campaign.
562 Florida Agricultural Experiment Station
The Japanese persimmon is well adapted to climatic and soil
conditions obtaining over a large portion of Florida. With right
varieties, proper culture, due care in packing, and efficient mar-
keting coupled with judicious advertising there is no valid rea-
son evident as to why this fruit should not become one of the
staple horticultural products of the state.