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'The persimmon tree has received more criticism, both adverse and favorable, than almost any known species," stated a U.S. Department of Agriculture Farmers' Bulletin of 1915. The bad press goes back as far as the early part of the 17th century, when Capt. John Smith, of Jamestown fame, wrote: "If a persimmon is not ripe it will draw a man's mouth awry with much torment." Smith went on to say that "when persimmon is ripe, it is as delicious as an apricot."
When ready to eat, a persimmon is very soft--too soft for the market. But in backyards, where fruits need to travel no further than arm's length, they are perfect. When ripe, persimmon flesh tastes something like a wet, dried apricot dipped in honey with a dash of spice.
A trouble-free fruit to grow and beautiful in the garden as the red-orange fruits hang on the tree after the leaves fall. The fruit can be made into pulp and frozen, or sliced and dried. Persimmon trees do well in heavy soils and need little pruning after they are trained. All are on Lotus rootstock, which can grow up to 30 feet tall or be kept to ten feet by summer pruning. Trees can be espalier trained and are suitable for containers. Older wood is hardy to 0 degrees F. They have a low chilling requirement (200 hours), and are self-fruitful. They do best in USDA zones 7-11.