Deciduous, Edible fruit, Trees
Three kinds of persimmons are grown in the West. The native American species is a bigger, more cold-tolerant tree than the Japanese species, but the latter bears larger fruit—the kind sold in markets. The third type is a hybrid between the two. All three have inconspicuous flowers, are tolerant of many soils (as long as drainage is good), and are rarely bothered by pests or diseases.
Fruit of American, hybrid, and some Japanese persimmon varieties is astringent until soft-ripe; eat it before then, and tannins in the flesh make you pucker; eat it when the flesh is mushy and puddinglike, and the flavor is very sweet. To save the crop from birds, pick persimmons when they’re fully colored (deep orange) but still firm, then bring them indoors to ripen. Nonastringent varieties are hard (like apples) when ripe, with a mildly sweet flavor; they can be eaten hard, but their flavor improves when they are allowed to soften slightly off the tree. All types can be used in cooking and baking.
Zones 6–9, 14–16, 18–24, H1 (fruiting may be inconsistent in Hawaii—does best in dry highlands). This species grows to at least 30 ft. tall and wide. It has a handsome branch pattern and is one of the best fruit trees for ornamental use; makes a good small shade tree or espalier. Leaves are light green when new, maturing to dark green, leathery ovals to 7 in. long. Foliage turns vivid yellow, orange, or red in fall (even in mild climates). After leaves drop, brilliant orange-scarlet, 3–4-in. fruits brighten the tree for weeks and persist until winter unless harvested. The tree sets fruit without pollination, though trees pollinated by another Japanese persimmon often produce tastier, more abundant crops.
‘Chocolate’. Medium-size, acorn-shaped fruit. Nonastringent when unpollinated, with seedless yellow-orange flesh. Astringent until soft-ripe when pollinated, with seeded flesh that has dark streaks. Fruit from pollinated trees has best flavor.
‘Fuyu’. Firm fleshed; about the size of a baseball but flattened like a tomato. Nonastringent. Favorite variety in Hawaii. ‘Jiro’ is very similar and often mislabeled as ‘Fuyu’.
‘Gosho’ (‘Giant Fuyu’). Very large, rounded fruit. Nonastringent. Sweet and flavorful. Widely adapted.
‘Hachiya’. Big, slightly pointed fruit. Astringent. Very shapely tree for ornamental use.
‘Izu’. Medium-size, round fruit borne on a tree about half the standard size. Nonastringent. Ripens early (end of summer, beginning of fall).
‘Maru’. Medium-size, round fruit with shiny, orange skin and dark cinnamon-colored flesh. Nonastringent and seeded if pollinated by another variety; astringent if unpollinated. Has best flavor when seeded.
‘Nishimura Wase’ (‘Coffee Cake’). Large, round fruit. Nonastringent when pollinated by another variety, with spicy-sweet, chocolate-colored flesh; astringent, with lighter-colored flesh, if unpollinated. Ripens early. Good choice in climates too cool to ripen ‘Fuyu’. Use ‘Chocolate’ as a pollenizer.
‘Saijo’. Elongated, dull yellow fruit. Astringent. Hardy, productive, early-ripening variety. One of the most reliable for the Pacific Northwest. Hardy.
‘Tamopan’. Large, acorn-shaped fruit. Astringent.
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Zones 6–9, 14–16, 18–24, H1 (fruiting may be inconsistent in Hawaii—does best ...