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What Does a Persimmon Tree Look Like? Surprisingly Ornamental!

Even if you’re someone who can never see the forest for the trees, you wouldn’t have any trouble identifying a persimmon tree. Why? Because of its bark. Black, scaly bark is a persimmon tree’s most recognizable feature, but it has several others. We explore them and how they simplify persimmon tree identification through the four seasons.

The Bark

When it comes to conspicuous outerwear, mature American and Oriental persimmon trees (Diospyros virginiana, Diospyros kaki) win the fruit tree title twigs down. Thick, square scales of gray-streaked, charcoal or black bark cover their trunks like a layer of barbecue briquettes. In the dead of winter, when its fruit may be absent and its leaves certainly are, a persimmon’s trunk bark still reveals its identity.

Young Persimmon Bark

On young persimmons (and the newest growth of older ones) the bark is reddish brown to pale gray. As it’s becoming black and scaly, the trunk bark splits so the orange-red inner bark shows through. A persimmon’s branch bark is always smooth.

The Fruit

Imagine heirloom tomatoes growing on trees. Ripe persimmons have tomato-smooth skins in dramatic shades of yellow, orange and red. A leafy green calyx caps each fruit. Their ripening pulp changes from crisp to pudding soft. Persimmonfruit season varies with the type of tree.

American Persimmons

American persimmons growing in USDA plant hardiness zones 4 through 9, may hold some of their fruit until February, creating a striking contrast with their bark. It’s:

  • Round
  • 1 ½ to 2 inches in diameter.
  • Pinkish-orange with a frosty sheen.

Oriental Persimmons

For Oriental persimmons growing in USDA zones 7 through 10, the fruit season extends from early September until late November. Their fruits are:

  • Tomato-shaped, acorn-shaped, square or oblong.
  • 1 ½ to 4 inches in diameter.
  • Varying shades of yellow, orange or red.

The Leaves and Flowers

A persimmon tree’s leaves open in spring, well ahead of its flowers. Both varieties bears oval to elliptical leaves arranged alternately along their branches. The toothed leaves have lustrous, bluish-green surfaces and pale-green undersides. In fall, they turn glorious shades of yellow, orange, scarlet or reddish-purple.

A persimmon tree usually produces only male or female flowers. Male flowers open first, in clusters of three to five. They’re pale-yellow, bell-shaped and just 1/3-inch long. Twice the size of the males, the pinkish-white females open singly.

Tree Size

American persimmons typically reach 35 to 60 feet tall, with symmetrical, oval 20 to 35-foot canopies. Oriental varieties may grow 20 to 30 feet tall and wide but are usually more compact. The outer branches of both often droop under the weight of their fruit.

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