This is a closeup of the ripening fruit on my Texas Persimmon (Diospyros texana) tree. I purchased this tree at a native plant sale about a year ago, and I am delighted to see it already producing so much fruit! If you’re reading this, you might be wondering if the fruit is edible. Yep! They are sweet and tasty – and I’ve documented what they look like inside and out in a series of photographs.
This little tree looks like a “baby” tree, between 5-6 feet tall. I am hoping it will grow to about 15 feet, as the species reportedly1 ranges from 12-36 feet tall. This little gem is very happy in my front yard, where it gets full Texas sun.
I collected 13 ripe persimmons late yesterday, and set them on a stone on the ground, near one of my bird baths. They were all still there this afternoon, so I moved some of them to the Bird Lounge (my name for the nifty bird thing I built). Birds and animals like the fruit, and I understand why. I’ve set a few of these out on the Bird Lounge before, only to have them disappear overnight, with just the seeds and skin left behind.
This tree is related to Ebony (they are in the same genus: Diospyros). Apparently the Texas Persimmon will develop black heartwood if it grows for a long time and gets large enough.
Native to northern Mexico as well, the Texas Persimmon is also known as Mexican Persimmon and Chapote Negro.2 It takes 5-6 years before the tree starts to produce fruit – only growing 2 – 3.6 feet in 5 years.3. Since my tree is about 6 feet tall, it could be 8-15 years old.
The botanist who named this tree is George Heinrich Adolf Scheele (1808-1864)4 I’ve spent waaaay too much time trying to learn more about him to share here. I did learn on wildflower.org that Scheele was a contemporary and colleague of Lindheimer, who is huge in Texas natural history.
I peeled the thin skin off of one half of the persimmon and popped it in my mouth. I didn’t need to chew – and I knew there were seeds – so I mushed it around in my mouth until there were only seeds left.
Everywhere I have looked for information about this tree and its fruit, I have found reference to the staining that occurs from the fruit. Several sources noted that people in Mexico use the fruit to stain hides. One source even described the fruit stain as indelible.
I poked several seeds down into the dirt in my herb garden – we’ll see if they sprout (then check back in about 15 years to see how it’s doing!). I’ll leave you with a photo-link to Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, of a huge specimen photographed by Sally and Andy Wasowski:
- Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, http://www.wildflower.org/plants/result.php?id_plant=DITE3 ↩
- Texas Trees, by Paul W. Cox and Pattie Leslie, ©1988 ↩
- Carey, Jennifer H. 1994. Diospyros texana. In: Fire Effects Information System, Online. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: http://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/ 2009, August 26 ↩
- http://species.wikimedia.org/wiki/George_Heinrich_Adolf_Scheele ↩