The Japanese persimmon (Diospyros kaki) is different from the persimmon that is native to the U.S. because it is not astringent and can be eaten when ripe rather than in the fermentation stage (American persimmons taste best after being hit by frost and they begin to decay), according to experts at Purdue University. Japanese persimmon trees are long lived and one of the most pest free types of fruit trees to grow. Also, the trees do not grow really large (remaining at 15 to 40 feet) and have an attractive spreading habit (15 to 20 feet), and they need little regular pruning. All Japanese persimmons grow well in average, well-drained garden soil with adequate moisture during the fruiting period.
The Fuyu is the most widely grown Japanese persimmon. It is never astringent and has a slightly longer shelf life than other persimmon varieties. The fruit of the Fuyu persimmon is medium to large and a strong red color. The shape of the fruit is considered flat, like a tomato, and it ripens in the fall, around October and November in the north.
Jiro is another non-astringent variety of Japanese or Oriental persimmon. It has a red fruit that is considered flat or tomato-shaped. Like Fuyu, Jiro is an important crop in Japan because it ships well and has a longer shelf life than other types of Japanese persimmons. The fruit of the Jiro matures earlier than Fuyu. Jiro fruit matures in September and October in the north.
Eureka is a variety that is very popular in the southern U.S., from Texas to Florida. The fruit is orange-red and flattened and it matures in late fall, from October to November. The tree is a heavy bearer of fruit and is drought tolerant. The Eureka persimmon variety is also more pest and disease resistant than some other varieties. The fruit is non-astringent.
The Saruga variety of Japanese persimmon is a good choice for warmer climates. The fruit of the Saruga variety is larger than most other varieties of Japanese persimmon. The quality of the flesh is considered very good and particularly sweet. The skin of the non-astringent fruit is bright orange red and it matures in the November to December period.
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