Crooked Run Valley
common persimmon (Diospyros virginiana)
SCIENTIFIC SYNONYMS: There are no scientific synonyms for
CONFIRMATION STATUS: Confirmed.
TAXONOMY: The scientific name for common persimmon is Diospyros
virginiana L. Varieties include: 1) Diospyros virginiana L. var. virginiana
(typical common persimmon), 2) Diospyros virginiana var. pubescens
(Pursch) Dipp. (fuzzy common persimmon), 3) Diospyros virginiana var.
platycarpa Sarg. (Oklahoma common persimmon), and 4) Diospyros
virginiana var. mosieri (Small) Sarg. (Florida persimmon).
NATIVE STATUS: Native, United States.
GENERAL BOTANICAL CHARACTERISTICS: Common persimmon
is a slow-growing, thicket-forming, dioecious, deciduous tree up to 70 feet
(21 m) but generally less than 40 feet (12 m) tall. It has a rounded or
conical crown with the branches spreading at right angles. The twigs are
self-pruning and form an irregular shaped crown. The leaves are simple,
alternate, entire, and elliptical to oblong. The fruit is a persistent spherical
berry; each berry contains one to eight flat seeds.
REGENERATION PROCESSES: Common persimmon reproduces
vegetatively and by seed. The optimum fruit-bearing age is 25 to 50
years, but 10-year-old trees sometimes bear fruit. Good seed crops are
borne every 2 years, with light crops in intervening years. The seed is
disseminated by birds and animals that feed on the fruits, and to some
extent, by overflow water in low bottomlands.
Common persimmon will sprout from the stump or develop from root
suckers. Sprouting from the root collar is common after fire or cutting.
SITE CHARACTERISTICS: Common persimmon grows on a wide
variety of sites but grows best on terraces of large streams and river
bottoms. It grows best on alluvial soils such as clays and heavy loams.
Common overstory associates include eastern redcedar (Juniperus
virginiana), sugar maple (Acer saccharum), yellow-poplar (Liriodendron
tulipifera), boxelder (Acer negundo), red maple (Acer rubrum), sycamore
(Platanus occidentalis), and cedar elm (Ulmus crassifolia). Common
shrubs and noncommercial tree associates include swamp-privet
(Forestiera acuminata), rough-leaf dogwood (Cornus drummondii),
hawthorns (Crataegus spp.), water-elm (Planera acquatica), shining
sumac (Rhus copallina), and smooth sumac (Rhus glabra).
SUCCESSIONAL STATUS: Common persimmon is very tolerant of
shade. It can persist in the understory for many years. Its response to
release is not definitely known but probably not very good. Common
persimmon competes very well with almost any plant under harsh
SEASONAL DEVELOPMENT: The flowers of common persimmon
bloom from March to June; its fruit ripens from September to November.
GENERAL DISTRIBUTION: Common persimmon is distributed from
southern Connecticut and Long Island, New York to southern Florida.
Inland it occurs in central Pennsylvania, southern Ohio, southern Indiana,
and central Illinois to southeastern Iowa; and southeastern Kansas and
Oklahoma to the Valley of the Colorado River in Texas. It does not grow
in the main range of the Appalachian Mountains, nor in much of the oak-
hickory forest type of the Allegheny Plateau.
SKY MEADOWS DISTRIBUTION:
Tree specimens can be found on trails marked in red.
Appalachian Trail/Old Trail
South Ridge/North Ridge
Rolling Meadows/ Lost Mountain
HABITAT TYPES AND PLANT COMMUNITIES: Common per-
simmon is found in many plant associations, but it is not an indicator
of any particular habitat.
IMPORTANCE AND USES: The leaves and twigs of common
persimmon are an important supplementary fall and winter food for
white-tailed deer. The fruit is an important food for squirrel, fox,
coyote, racoon, opossum, and quail. Hogs relish the fruit of common
persimmon, but it is of little value to other livestock and is considered
Common persimmon sends down a deep taproot which makes it a good
species for erosion control.
The wood of common persimmon is hard, smooth, and even textured.
It is used for turnery, plane stocks, veneer, golf club heads, and
occasionally low-grade lumber.
The unripe fruit and inner bark of common persimmon are sometimes
used in the treatment of fever, diarrhea, and hemorrhage. Indelible ink
can also be made from the fruit. Common persimmon is sometimes
planted as an ornamental; the flowers are used in the production of honey.