The persimmon (Diospyros virginiana) is a slow-growing tree that thrives in moist, fertile soils. Persimmon trees grow in a wide range of habitats, from bottomlands and hardwood hammocks to pinelands and sandy ridges. Native to the United States, the persimmon tree is found growing from southern New England through the southeastern states and westward to Texas, Iowa and Oklahoma. The persimmon produces berry-like fruits that are edible for both humans and animals, attracting a wide variety of mammals in the wild.
Study the shape and size of the tree to identify the persimmon. The persimmon tree reaches a mature height of 40 to 60 feet with a broad, round canopy and spreading, zigzag-patterned branches.
Identify the persimmon tree by its leaves, which are oblong, dark-green, leathery and shiny on the upper surfaces. The 4- to 6-inch-long and 2- to 3-inch-wide leaves are pale-green on the undersides and have sharply pointed tips with smooth leaf edges.
Look at the bark to identify the persimmon tree. The bark should be dark-gray to grayish-brown, thick and with short furrows that create square, block-like ridges. The inner bark turns yellowish in color when it’s exposed.
Study the fruits to spot the persimmon. The persimmon tree produces orange or purplish berries that are 3/4 to 2 -1/2 inches in diameter with smooth outer skin that wrinkles when ripe.
Identify the persimmon tree by studying its flowers. Notice that the persimmon bears female and male flowers on separate trees, and the female flowers are creamy-white, bell-shaped and borne individually on the tree branches.
- In the colder, more northern areas of the persimmon tree's habitat range, it grows in a shrub form. You may notice that the persimmon has multiple trunks and is much smaller in the colder regions, but it will still produce the same distinct fruits.
- Don't expect to identify the persimmon tree by looking at its male flowers. The male flowers are tiny and inconspicuous, making them poor markers for identification.