By: Jannie Vaught
As this gardener wanders through the extensive history and availability of the many native plants of Texas, I find some interesting and thought provoking plants. In my list of “Things that make you go hum.” The Common Persimmon is one.
Not to be confused with the Texas Persimmon, The little black fruited persimmon. The Common persimmon, Diospyros virginianan L. There are only two species of Diospyros in the United States, and Texas is the only state where both are native.The smaller, black fruited Texas persimmon inhabits the southern half of the state and northern Mexico, and the much larger, orange fruit common persimmon grows in the eastern half, which is the southwest corner of its distribution. For hundreds of years, the Common Persimmon was prized for its fruit. The fruit was prized and consumed in great quantities in the southern states.
Today it is safe to say that few people are familiar with this once well known fruit. It has become a quiet relic of a grandparent’s kitchen. As a tree it is known for a well-shaped ornamental with perfumed flowers and lustrous leaves and with its suckering roots, as a erosion control staple. For those of you who do not know the persimmon in its early not fully ripe it is a true pucker up taste, but give it some time to fully ripen to a deep golden color and soft to touch it is an exotic flavor.
Described as “luscious”. Native American tribes of the southwest Appalachians, such as the Cherokee, and the Caddo of east Texas, consumed the fruit raw and preserved it by drying it flat much like a prune. The bark was used for wound dressings and the fruit for digestion problems. Maybe this “Relic” will interest you to include the Common Persimmon in your garden.
I have been given two Texas persimmon trees by a local gardener and yes they are slow growing, but are sturdy and consistent in their resilience with weather and water. I enjoy their tough never give up attitude. When many nursery trees are struggling the persimmon is a stalwart friend in the landscape. When we consider the history of this plant we need to tip our hat to the persimmon.
And that is a happy thought!
Well onward through the paths of history and the native plants of Texas.
Out Growing Green With Jannie