Since I have been a vegetarian for several decades, it is no surprise that I eat a lot of fruit and enjoy it. Who doesn’t like a crisp apple or juicy peach? But something about the persimmon puts it in a class of its own. That’s why orange persimmons are much on my mind these days, even though those on my tree have a ways to go before they turn brilliant orange.
Persimmons are among the most beautiful fruit, hanging like little orange decorations on the branches of the persimmon tree long after it has lost its leaves. The two types of persimmons most popular for cultivation are the Fuyu and the Hashiya persimmon. Both ripen in autumn and hang on the tree into winter.
The Hashiya is my personal favorite. The fruit are inedible until ripe, with an astringency that forces a hungry gardener to wait to eat them. Once ripe they are an utter delight for the senses. The color is flame orange, the flesh is soft as pudding and the taste is rich and sweet. It grows in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 7 through 10.
I have never grown American persimmons (Diospyros virginiana) but I understand that they are also bitter until they are ripe. It’s hard to explain why this quality appeals to me so much, other than to say that I like trees that set their own boundaries.
The American persimmon trees grow larger than Asian varieties and can be cultivated in a wider range of hardiness zones. They can reach 50 feet (18 m.) tall and thrive in USDA zones 4 through 11.
If you live in the right hardiness zone, I highly recommend growing persimmons. Hashiya persimmons are self-pollinating, which means you only need plant one tree to get fruit. And they are a joy from spring through fall in the garden.
Persimmons bloom late enough in the spring that you don’t need to worry about the effects of late spring frosts. But don’t wedge your tree into a corner; they need elbow-room to thrive, a location with full sun and excellent drainage. Spring brings green leaves and flowers, summer the fruit develops, and autumn, as the fruit ripens, the leaves turn all sorts of wonderful fiery shades. Don’t miss the experience of growing persimmons!