Group Title: Bulletin - University of Florida Agricultural Extension Service ; 124
Title: The cultivated persimmon in Florida
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 Material Information
Title: The cultivated persimmon in Florida
Series Title: Bulletin
Physical Description: 36 p. : ill. ; 23 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Camp, A. F ( Arthur Forrest ), 1896-
Mowry, Harold
Publisher: Agricultural Extension Service
Place of Publication: Gainesville Fla
Publication Date: <1945>
Subject: Persimmon -- Florida   ( lcsh )
Genre: government publication (state, provincial, terriorial, dependent)   ( marcgt )
bibliography   ( marcgt )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )
Bibliography: Includes bibliographical references.
Statement of Responsibility: by A.F. Camp and Harold Mowry.
General Note: "January, 1945."
Funding: Bulletin (University of Florida. Agricultural Extension Division) ;
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00024084
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: aleph - 002571176
oclc - 44716584
notis - AMT7491

Full Text


The publications in this collection do
not reflect current scientific knowledge
or recommendations. These texts
represent the historic publishing
record of the Institute for Food and
Agricultural Sciences and should be
used only to trace the historic work of
the Institute and its staff. Current IFAS
research may be found on the
Electronic Data Information Source

site maintained by the Florida
Cooperative Extension Service.

Copyright 2005, Board of Trustees, University
of Florida

January, 1945


Fiu. 1.-A fine specimen
of thei Tanenashi variety.

Bulletins will be sent free to Florida residents upon request to

Bulletin 124

(Acts of May 8 and June 30, 1914)
A. P. SPENCER, Director

H. P. ADAIR, Chairman, Jacksonville N. B. JORDAN, Quincy
THOSE. W. BRYANT, Lakeland T. T. SCOTT, Live Oak
M. L. MERSHON, Miami J. T. DIAMOND, Secretary, Tallahassee
JOHN J. TIGERT, M.A., LL.D., President of the University
H. HAROLD HUME, D.Sc., Provost for Agriculture
A. P. SPENCER, M.S., Director of Extension
CLYDE BEALE, A.B.J., Assistant Editor'
JEFFERSON THOMAS, Assistant Editor'
FRANK M. DENNIS, B.S.A., Supervisor, Egg-Laying Test
RUBY NEWHALL, Administrative Manager'
Agricultural Demonstration Work, Gainesville
W. T. NETTLES, B.S., District Agent
J. LEE SMITH, District Agent and Agronomist
E. F. DEBUSK, B.S., State Supervisor, Emergency Farm Labor
H. S. MCLENDON, B. A., Asst. State Supervisor, Emergency Farm Labor
MRS. BONNIE J. CARTER, B.S., Assistant WLA Leader
HANS O. ANDERSEN, B.S.A., Asst. State Supervisor, EFL
G. NORMAN ROSE, B.S., Asst. State Supervisor, EFL
P. L. PEADEN, M.A., Asst. State Supervisor, EFL
H. G. CLAYTON, M.S.A., Coordinator with AAA
R. S. DENNIS, B.S.A., Assistant Coordinator with AAA
R. W. BLACKLOCK, A.B., Boys' Club Agent
W. W. BASSETT, JR., B.S.A., Assistant Boys' Club Agent'
A. L. SHEALY, D.V.M., Animal Industrialist'
HAMLIN L. BROWN, B.S., Dairyman
N. R. MEHRHOF, M.AGR., Poultryman1
WALTER J. SHEELY. B.S., Animal Husbandman
A. W. O'STEEN, B.S.A., Poultryman
L. T. NIELAND, Farm Forester
C. V. NOBLE, PH.D., Agricultural Economist'
CHARLES M. HAMPSON, M.S., Agricultural Economist, Farm Management
D. E. TIMMONS, M.S.A., Economist in Marketing
ZACH SAVAGE, M.S., Economist
JOSEPH C. BEDSOLE, B.S.A., Assistant in Land-Use Planning'
K. S. MCMULLEN, B.S.A., Soil Conservationist
Home Demonstration Work, Tallahassee
MARY E. KEOWN, M.S., State Agent
RUBY MCDAVID, District Agent
ETHYL HOLLOWAY, B.S., District Agent
MRS. EDITH Y. BARRUS, District Agent
ANNA MAE SIKES, M.S., Specialist in Nutrition
VIRGINIA P. MOORE, Home Improvement Agent
ISABELLE S. THURSBY, Specialist in Food Conservation
JOYCE BEVIS, M.A., Clothing Specialist
Negro Extension Work, Tallahassee
A. A. TURNER, Local District Agent
FLOY BRITT, B.S.H.E., Local District Agent

2 On leave.



The Oriental persimmon 2 (Diospyros kaki L.) has been grown
in Florida for many years. The fruit has not become a staple
commercial product and at present there is a total of about
22,750 trees of both bearing and non-bearing ages. The pro-
duction for the year 1939 was 158,758 pounds, according to the
U. S. Census.
Climatic and soil conditions in Florida evidently are quite
favorable to the growth of the tree, since bearing trees are to
be found in nearly every county, though apparently it is some-
what better adapted to the more northern portions 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 effort made
to maintain a steady supply or demand in any 1 market have
brought and will continue to bring widely fluctuating returns.
Considering that there are no standard Florida brands or varie-
ties well known to the market and that the public generally is
unacquainted with this fruit, it cannot be fairly expected that'
fancy prices will be received consistently for small, irregular
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,
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-

SThis is a revision of Experiment Station Bulletin 205, the revision being
made by G. H. Blackmon and L. O. Gratz.
SCommonly termed Kaki, Oriental or Japanese persimmon.

Florida Cooperative Extension

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 out-
lined 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 per-
mitted an organization of the growers which would provide for
proper marketing and advertising. The consuming public, not
being familiar with the cultivated persimmon and after attempt-
ing to eat immature and highly astringent fruit, 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
steadier supply to the market, a more uniform pack and grade,
and an opportunity for effective advertising at small cost to
the individual producer. When these conditions are fulfilled the
character of the fruit is such that a satisfactory demand should
follow 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.

Diospyros virginiana L. is the only widely distributed native
persimmon in the United States. It is found from Connecticut to
Florida and west to Kansas and Texas.3 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 Asia.
The 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 be on a par
with that of the apple in this country. The first introduction
of the Oriental 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 sub-
SBailey, L. H. Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture. 2: 1010. 1917.

The Cultivated Persimmon in Florida

sequently frozen before any had been distributed. Later im-
portations 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 Southern states where they grew well in many localities.
Following the successful growth of these early introductions
many individuals imported trees in considerable numbers until
such importations were stopped by Federal 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 culutral
requirements of the trees. It remained, however, for H. Harold
Hume to straighten out the difficulties which had been encount-
ered in pollination and to put the variety situation upon a
sound basis. 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 4 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, 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
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.

SA clonal variety is a variety originating from a single bud or scion
and continuously propagated vegetatively, i.e., by budding, grafting, or

Florida Cooperative Extension


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
Apples ....- --........ ..............---..--............-.... ..-... 9 to 10
Cherries ....-.........-........-..........................--- .....-... 10 to 11
Strawberries ........................- ...-- .....-----....-----.. 5 to 6
Oranges -... ........-...... .......-........- ..............--... ... ..... .----- 4 to 9
Grapefruit ................... .... ... .. .....---- ..........- -.. 5 to 8
Cultivated 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 Oriental 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 varieties
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 not
have an astringent effect.5 In the case of some of the non-
astringent varieties the tannin usually undergoes an oxidation
before ripening wjth 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-

SLloyd, Francis E. The behavior of tanin in persimmons. Plant World
14:1-14. 1911.

The Cultivated Persimmon in Florida

ficial methods of ripening. In the Orient, persimmons are com-
monly processed by 1 of various methods and go onto the market
non-astringent though still more or less firm. The fruits while
still hard are frequently packed in freshly emptied sake (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 properly
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 packing the
persimmons in barrels of which the walls 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
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.6 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 2 to 10 days, depending upon the variety
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-
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
water 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 7 and others have indicated
that ethylene and other gases also will remove the astringency

McClure, F. A. Notes on persimmons in Kwangtung. Lingnaam Agr.
Review 3: 2 91-98, pls. 10.

Florida Cooperative Extension

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
allowed to dry. Varieties with firm flesh, such as the Tanenashi,
are favored for this purpose. Experiments by the United States
Department of Agriculture 8 have shown that they can be dried
readily at 1220 F. in the standard evaporator and that the dark-
ening of the flesh during this process can be prevented by
steaming 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
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 1 in which there is the most interest. While its common
SOverholser, E. L. Some studies upon ripening and removal of astrin-
gency in Japanese persimmons. Proc. Am. Soc. Hort. Science. 1927: 256-266.
8 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.

The Cultivated Persimmon in Florida

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 nearly
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.9 Most of the remaining
members 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
being 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, borne
in groups of 3, are 4-lobed, urn-shaped, and of a white or
greenish-white color. The pistillate flowers, solitary in the
leaf axils, are 1/ to % inches in length and closely resemble
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-
partively small amount of flesh. The flesh is yellow to red in
color when ripe and varies from a granular or pasty to a custard-
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

9 Some of the wild forms of Japanese persimmons (D. kaki var. silvestris
Mak.) are used in the Orient as roostocks for the cultivated varieties of
the same species.

10 Florida Cooperative Extension

Fig. 2.-Young tree of the Tanenashi variety. Note the type of growth.
eastward to Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas. A number of se-
lected seedlings have been named and described by nursery-
men, these including such varieties as the Ford, Early Golden,
Glidewell, Hicks, Josephine and others. None of these is grown
commercially in Florida at present, the value of the species in
this area lying in its use as a rootstock for D. kaki.
D. kaki is a tree growing up to 40 feet in height, but not
attaining 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
a slight pubescence on the under surface. Three kinds of flow-
ers are borne: perfect flowers having both stamens and pistil,

The Cultivated Persimmon in Florida

Fig. 3.-Flowers of the Japanese persimmon. The small flower at the left
is staminate (male) and the remaining flowers are pistillate (female).

pistillate flowers having a pistil and no stamens, and staminate
flowers having stamens but no pistil. The fact that 1 or more
of these types of flowers may be borne on any 1 tree led to
considerable difficulty in the early classification of Japanese per-
simmons. Later Hume 10 worked out the flowering character-
istics very carefully and showed that there were 3 groups of
varieties. In 1 group only pistillate flowers are borne and va-
rieties 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
staminate sporadic.
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

1o Hume, H. Harold, Planting persimmons. Jour. of Heredity 5: 131-138,
1914. Also Hume, H. Harold, Non-fruiting of Japanese persimmons due
to lack of pollen, Science U. S. 30: 308-309. 1919.

Florida Cooperative Extension

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 Oriental and consequently cannot
be used as a source of pollen for plantings of the latter.
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
2 other varieties grown to some extent, the Tanenashi and
Tamopan, fall in the same group.

Attempts to classify varieties according to fruit characteris-
tics proved unsatisfactory until Hume 11 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
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 2 groups. In the
first group the fruit was light-fleshed whether it bore seeds or
not and these varieties he called pollination constants.12 The
second 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-

1 Hume, H. H. A kaki classification. Jour. Heredity 5: 400-406, figs.
6-11. 1914.
1" Some varieties of the Oriental 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.

The Cultivated Persimmon in Florida

nated. In some varieties in this group a fruit with only 1 seed
in it will have a dark area around that seed, but the remaining
flesh may be light; or, if there are only 2 seeds side by side,
that side of the fruit will have dark flesh and the remainder
of the flesh will be light; 2 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 number and location of seeds.
In the following table the varieties grown in this state are
classified under Hume's 2 groups, the important commercial
varieties being in black type.

Light-fleshed whether seedless or Light-fleshed when seedless,
seedy Dark-fleshed when seedy.
Costata Gailey
Fuyu (gaki) Godbey
Hachiya Hyakume
Ormond Okame
Tanenashi Taber's 129
Tamopan Taber's 23
Triumph Yemon
Tsuru Yeddo Ichi

It will be noted that the first group, the pollination constants,
includes the common commercial varieties in both Florida and
California, i.e., the Tanenashi, Hachiya, Tamopan and Fuyu. Of
these the first 3 are ordinarily seedless, though they may oc-
casionally show 1 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
accept 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 1 or 2 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

Florida Cooperative Extension

Fig. 4.-Fruit of the Costata variety (four-fifths natural size).

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 in to this country. It was found, however, that when these
varieties were moved from 1 locality to another their character-
istics 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 present
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 variety. Until it has been
thoroughly proven, both in the field and on the market, however,
it cannot be recommended, unqualifiedly, for large acreages.

The Cultivated Persimmon in Florida

Fig. 5.-Fruit of the Fuyu (Fuyugaki) variety (two-thirds natural size).

Two varieties now monopolize commercial production, the
Tanenashi in Florida and the-Hachiya in California. The Tanen-
ashi 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 Califor-
nia 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 approximate that of
either the Hachiya or Tanenashi.
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 the Tanenashi has flesh
of a peculiarly pasty consistency which is a distinguishing char-
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
market characteristics enumerated above and which is known

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to be prolific and to grow well throughout most of Florida. The
Tamopan 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
to distinguish it from other persimmons. If the Fuyu continues
to prove satisfactory in growth and quality it is quite likely to
become a leading commercial variety in that it is non-astringent
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.
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 1 tree
of Gailey, or other heavy bearer of staminate flowers, should
be interplanted to every 8 trees of other varieties. For home
plantings the following varieties will give a supply of ripening
fruit from August to October, the varieties ripening in approxi-
mately the order named.

Zengi Hyakume
Okame Yemon
Triumph Costata
Fuyu (gaki) Tsuru
Tanenashi Tamopan

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
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, like the Triumph and Fuyu.
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 1 or 2 long oval seeds.
Ripens, October.

The Cultivated Persimmon in Florida

Fig. 6.-Fruit of the Gailey variety (natural size).

Fuyu (Fuyugaki)-Fruit oblate and pronouncedly flattened,
indistinctly quadrangular, size medium to large, usually about
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.
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-

18 Florida Cooperative Extension

tical. The first 2 were introduced under the name Fuyu and
the last as Fuyugaki. Probably the only 1 distributed in Florida
to any extent is the one introduced as Fuyugaki under S. P. I.
No. 26773.

Fig. 7.-Fruit of the Hachiya variety.

This fruit is highly recommended for planting in both Florida
and California on account of the high quality, good yields and
the fact that it is non-astringent when still hard.
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.

The Cultivated Persimmon in Florida

Hachiya-Fruit oblong-conical with roundish apex and short
black point; very large, 3 to 31/4 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 consist-


S'i -

Fig. 8.-Fruit of the Nectar variety.

ency, astringent until ripe; practically always seedless in Cali-
fornia but frequently showing 1 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 com-
ency asringnt nti rip; pactiall alays eedessin Cali
foriabu frqunty sowng1 o mresees n loid.Ts
frut s f eryhih uaityan b mny s elevd o be th

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mercial 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. 9.-Fruit of the Okame variety (two-thirds 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 every pleasing quality. Season,
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 to 21/4 inches long by
3 inches across. Skin orange-yellow to carmine when very ripe.
Flesh light yellow with light brown center, tending to trans-
parency as it becomes very ripe, astringent until it starts to
ripen; several seeds. Season, October.

The Cultivated Persimmon in Florida

Ormond-Fruit oblong conical, small to medium, apex beaked
with 4 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
or 3 seeds and frequently seedless; astringent until soft. Ripens,
late November and December. Keeps exceedingly well. First
fruited in Volusia County as a graft from a small seedling sent
from Washington.
Taber's No. 23-Fruit round to oblate with flat or depressed


Fig. 10.-Fruit of the variety Taber's No. 23 (natural size).

Florida Cooperative Extension

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. 11.-Fruit of the Tamopan variety (two-thirds natural size.)

Tamopan-Fruit oblate and very flat, marked by a deep con-
striction around the fruit near the stem end, as if 2 fruits had
been pushed together; very large, 3 to 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
vary as to its quality. The fruit is quite soft and not very rich.

The Cultivated Persimmon in Florida

The fruits are said to be non-astringent when green in some
localities in China and Japan and a few localities in California
but are always astringent in Florida as far as known.


Fig. 12.-Fruiting limbs of the Tamopan with a heavy crop of fruit. The
limbs are willow-like and hang downward when carrying fruit.

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-
tion of this constriction is usually the same on fruits from a given
tree and it is possible that more than 1 variety or varietal strain
has been introduced under the name Tamopan.
Tanenashi-Fruit roundish conical with slightly pointed apex,
very large and symmetrical, 3 to 31s 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
peculiar pasty consistency and of very high quality, astringent
until ripe, practically always seedless. Season, September and

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October. This is at present the standard commercial variety
in Florida and is grown to some extent commercially in Cali-
fornia. The trees are roundish in shape and bear very heavily
under Florida conditions.

Fig. 13.-Fruit of the Tanenashi variety.

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
yellow, firm, of good quality, astringent until ripe; usually with
few seeds. Season, September to November; a good home fruit.

The Cultivated Persimmon in Florida

Tsuru. Fruit
long, conical, the
longest in propor-
tion 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

Fig. 14.-A cluster of almost mature fruits from a Tanenashi tree. Note
the bloom partially rubbed from the fruit in carrying.

purple bloom when green. Flesh dark yellow, granular, firm,
astringent until very ripe and frequently ripening unevenly,
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 state.

Florida Cooperative Extension

Yeddo-Ichi-Fruit round oblate, size medium, 2 to 21/2 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

Fig. 15.-Fruit of the Triumph variety (natural size).

Yemon-Fruit oblate and quadrangular with 4 furrows,
medium size with diameter of 2 to 3 inches. Skin orange red to

The Cultivated Persimmon in Florida

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 in Florida
the fruit is dark-fleshed and too soft for handling.

Fig. 16.-Fruit of the Yemon variety (two-thirds natural size).

Zengi-Fruit round or long oblate. Very small, diameter
about 11/ 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 commercial use.


In China and Japan the persimmon is grown as seedlings but
in some sections trees are 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 United
States and resort was had to the native persimmon, D. vir-

Florida Cooperative Extension

giniana, as a rootstock. Subsequently D. lotus was tested as a
rootstock and found to be very promising in California, 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 infec-
tion. Practically all of the trees' now growing in the south-
eastern United States are grafted on D. virginiana, though this
rootstock, while more satisfactory than the other 2 mentioned,
still falls short of being a first class rootstock. It is somewhat
hard to transparent, 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.


Fig. 17.-Fruit of the Zengi variety (natural size).
In China the kaki and lotus rootstocks produce large trees of
indefinite life but in the Southern states the life of a commercial
planting on the virginiana stock seldom exceeds 10 years and
may be less. Many individual trees are much older than this,
but with the rootstocks used at present the tree must be con-
sidered as being comparatively short-lived. The trees come into

The Cultivated Persimmon in Florida








Fig. 18.-Seeds of some of the common varieties of
persimmons. (Natural size.)

Florida Cooperative Extension

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 3 to 31/2 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 usually
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.
Seedlings will have attained sufficient size for grafting at
the end of 1 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 3 applica-
tions of a commercial fertilizer having a relatively high nitro-
gen content should be applied annually to both seedlings and
grafted stock.
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, having a caliper of 1
inch or less, the whip graft is employed, the graft union being
made at or near the soil surface. Root grafting is not used.
Scions should be of the current season's growth, of a diameter
approximating 1/4 to 3/8 inch and from 4 to 6 inches in length,
having 3 or 4 buds left intact. The scion wood should be cut just
prior to use, if possible, but may be preserved in good condition
for an indefinite period if taken from dormant trees and kept
in moist sphagnum moss.
The whip graft is made by cutting off the stock near the soil
surface, the cut being oblique and from 3/ 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 2 fitted together, using care that
cambium of stock and scion are in close contact at least on 1

The Cultivated Persimmon in Florida

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 moisture loss until a union is
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
2 scions, sharpened
into long wedges, are
fitted into the cleft
with the cambium on
I side of each in close
contact with the cam-
bium of the stock. The
scions should be tied
in firmly with a strong
cord and the wound
covered 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
wrapping is removed
as soon as a union is
formed, usually 10
days to 2 weeks after Fig. 19.-Whip grafting. Stock and scion
insertion. To prevent cut ready for fitting on left; fitted and
the free flow of sap tied on the right.
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.

Florida Cooperative Extension

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.
The working over of these large trees entails considerable labor
with no assurance, even if the grafting operation be successful,
that the trees will
*r live long enough to
repay the involved
expense. It would be
better to plant young
thrifty grafted stock
in regular orchard
formation than to at-
ab tempt the doubtful
utilization of large
volunteer trees.
In handling trees
S in the nursery it is
well to graft rather
small seedling trees
and transplant them
to the field before
i they become very
Fig. 20.-Cleft grafting: a. scion; b. stock large. Under these
split and scions inserted; c. scions tied and conditions they
waxed. transplant much bet-
ter 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 pruning.
Neither should the surface of the roots be allowed to become
dry by exposure to sun or wind as the drying of the roots may
also occasion considerable transplanting loss.

In Florida 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
habits 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

The Cultivated Persimmon in Florida

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-Decem-
ber, 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 va-
rieties will 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 conditions in
China. On the other hand it is possible in large commercial
groves to plant the trees 20 x 20 feet, or even a little wider and
interplant when the trees begin to die.
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 13 or other legume planted in the middles as soon as culti-
vation 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 nitrogen, 8 to 10 percent phosphoric acid and 3 to 6 percent
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 of July.
A chlorosis in the leaves of persimmons has been noted in
locations where pecans and tung trees show rosette and bronzing.
The symptoms are somewhat similar to zinc deficiency in other
deciduous trees in that there is a shortening of the internode

13 Crotalaria spectabilis Roth has been very satisfactory as a cover crop
in many sections of the northern half of the state, but is toxic to livestock
when eaten, and thus should not be grown where cattle, hogs, poultry, etc.,
are allowed to range. C. intermedia does not contain the toxic properties
and can be used safely.

Florida Cooperative Extension

and a rosette type of growth and in severe cases the dying of
the twigs. It is thought that this disorder in the persimmon
is zinc deficiency. Applications of zinc sulfate have been made
to soil and to the leaves as a foliage spray, but as yet complete
recovery has not been effected, although in some instances the
growth of the trees has been greatly improved. The persimmon
seems to be somewhat slower in recovery from this trouble when
the zinc sulfate is applied to the soil. It is recommended that
when such symptoms appear which resembles the brief descrip-
tion given above that zinc sulfate be applied at the rate of about
2 ounces for each year of age of the tree so affected.
Young trees should be headed back to from 21/2 to 3 feet when
planted and the young shoots later thinned to form a strong
framework. Five or 6 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 commercial varieties usually bear heavily and thinning
of the fruit rather than an attempt at increasing production
may be necessary. 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 are
well braced when fruiting.
In plantings of varieties requiring pollination 1 tree of the
Gailey or other variety producing an abundance of staminate
flowers should be interplanted with every 8 trees of the pistillate
flowering type. The planting should follow a regular system
so as to space the staminate flowering trees regularly throughout
the grove. Figure 22 gives the planting system proposed by

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

The Cultivated Persimmon in Florida








+ o + ++ +


































+ o +- ++ 0 +4-
Fig. 21.-Planting plan as proposed by Hume for varieties needing pollina-
tion. Circles represent interplanted trees of the Gailey variety.

Florida Cooperative Extension

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 individ-
ually 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 2 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.
The cultivated persimmon is well adapted to climatic and soil
conditions over a large portion of Florida. With right varieties,
proper culture, due care in packing, and efficient marketing
coupled with judicious advertising there is no valid reason
evident as to why this fruit should not become one of the staple
horticultural products of the state.

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