Several native persimmon trees stood in a small grove in the yard of the house in which I grew up.
They were messy in the fall of the year when the fruit was ripe and littered the ground. I remember well the unique sensation of stepping on persimmons in bare feet, cool, mushy, and slick. And when shod, not easy to remove from boot or sneaker soles.
I always liked the persimmon trees, despite the messiness, and despite the fact that we didn’t make the most of them as a food crop. They were so sweet and rich they were almost too rich, a bit like a date. To me as a child they weren’t worth the trouble of eating around the large, numerous seeds. However, the extremely astringent, unripe fruit was very useful for pranking city folks who were unfamiliar with the extreme effects of biting into one of them.
There’s nothing quite like a green persimmon face.
This spring I planted a persimmon tree in our own yard.
Instead of a native tree, I chose a Japanese variety, Saijo. Unlike the natives, these persimmon trees have (usually) seedless fruit. The fruit is also larger-sized than the ones I remember, and the trees, like our natives, are heat- and humidity-tolerant.
The tree I planted was about three to four feet tall, and branched. I planted it well and surrounded it with comfrey, the beginnings of a fruit tree guild. If you are unfamiliar with tree guilds, the term refers to a combination of multi-functioning plants around a fruit or nut tree or shrub. The combination of plants works in a mutually beneficial way. For example, nectary plants to lure pollinators and shade roots, nitrogen-fixers to improve the soil, daffodil bulbs to discourage tunneling voles, comfrey to mine minerals from deep in the earth, etc.
Mother Nature and I kept it watered, but months passed and no signs of life. Nonetheless, when I scratched the bark the tissue beneath was still green and very much alive. More months passed. Nothing, not even a swelling.
Finally, nearly six months after being set out, the first buds showed themselves, and a few days later, green leaves began to emerge. They are beautiful and fresh, and worth waiting for, even with fall just around the bend.
I’m looking forward to our first persimmons. It may take a few years yet to see fruit, but I hope one day before too long I will once again have ripe persimmons in my yard.
And before that, a few unripe ones for the city slickers.