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Common Persimmon

(Diospyros virginiana)

Height: Up to 60 feet or more on good sites  

Evergreen/Deciduous: Deciduous  

Lifespan: Relatively short-lived; 75 years at most  

Fall Foliage: Often relatively uninspiring yellow, but occasionally a showy orange or red  

Range: The southeastern United States from Texas to Pennsylvania   

Typical Habitat: An adaptable species, common persimmon prefers sandy soils, but will also grow on sunny upland sites

common persimmon tree leaves and flowers

The Common Persimmon Tree: An Important Food Source of the Forest   

There are many reasons to like and appreciate the common persimmon tree – but its edible fruit undoubtedly tops the list for many. In fact, persimmon fruit (once ripe and past its astringent stage) is a common ingredient in many traditional southern foods, ranging from jams to liquors.

However, the tree’s fruit are also quite popular with local wildlife species. Birds often feed heavily on the fruit, as do deer, foxes, coyotes, pigs, raccoons, and skunks.

Common Persimmon Identification: Tips & Tricks

The leaves of the common persimmon tree can present identification problems, as they generally resemble a number of other species. However, with practice, nature lovers can learn to recognize the subtle characteristics that distinguish persimmon tree leaves from the leave of other species growing in its range.

Fortunately, the tree provides two characteristics that allow for a relatively easy identification. The first is the presence of the tree’s multicolored fruit, which usually becomes apparent in the autumn and sometimes persists deep into the winter.

The other characteristic to note is the tree’s distinctive bark, which is dark and broken into nearly square blocks. The bark is often described as looking like alligator skin.

The Common Persimmon: Additional Information

Have we sparked your curiosity about these interesting fruit-bearing trees? Continue learning about them by checking out some of the resources below:

  • U.S. Forest Service: A comprehensive guide to the common persimmon, including information about everything from habitat preference to the species’ response to fire.
  • Missouri Botanical Gardens: A basic overview of the species, along with several high-quality photographs.    
  • North Carolina State Extension: Includes a handy quick-reference table, several photographs and notes on some of the most common cultivars.

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