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Morton, J. 1987. Japanese Persimmon. p. 411–416. In: Fruits of warm climates. Julia F. Morton, Miami, FL.

Japanese Persimmon

Diospyros kaki L.

In great contrast to the native American persimmon, Diospyros virginiana L., which has never advanced beyond the status of a minor fruit, an oriental member of the family Ebenaceae, D. kaki L. f ., is prominent in horticulture. Perhaps best-known in America as the Japanese, or Oriental, persimmon, it is also called kaki (in Spanish, caqui), Chinese plum or, when dried, Chinese fig.

Japanese Persimmon
Plate LIX: JAPANESE PERSIMMON, Diospyros kaki 'Tamopan'

The tree, reaching 15 to 60 ft (4.5-18 m) is long-lived and typically round-topped, fairly open, erect or semi-erect, sometimes crooked or willowy; seldom with a spread of more than 15 to 20 ft (4.5-6 m). The leaves are deciduous, alternate, with brown-hairy petioles 3/4 in (2 cm) long; are ovate-elliptic, oblong-ovate, or obovate, 3 to 10 in (7.5-25 cm) long, 2 to 4 in (5-10 cm) wide, leathery, glossy on the upper surface, brown-silky beneath; bluish-green, turning in the fall to rich yellow, orange or red. Male and female flowers are usually borne on separate trees; sometimes perfect or female flowers are found on male trees, and occasionally male flowers on female trees. Male flowers, in groups of 3 in the leaf axils, have 4-parted calyx and corolla and 24 stamens in 2 rows. Female flowers, solitary, have a large leaflike calyx, a 4-parted, pale-yellow corolla, 8 undeveloped stamens and oblate or rounded ovary bearing the style and stigma. Perfect flowers are intermediate between the two. The fruit, capped by the persistent calyx, may be round, conical, oblate, or nearly square, has thin, smooth, glossy, yellow, orange, red or brownish-red skin, yellow, orange, or dark-brown, juicy, gelatinous flesh, seedless or containing 4 to 8 flat, oblong, brown seeds 3/4 in (2 cm) long. Generally, the flesh is bitter and astringent until fully ripe, when it becomes soft, sweet and pleasant, but dark-fleshed types may be non-astringent, crisp, sweet and edible even before full ripening.

Origin and Distribution

The tree is native to Japan, China, Burma and the Himalayas and Khasi Hills of northern India. In China it is found wild at altitudes up to 6,000-8,000 ft (1,830-2,500 m) and it is cultivated from Manchuria southward to Kwangtung. Early in the 14th Century, Marco Polo recorded the Chinese trade in persimmons. Korea has long-established ceremonies that feature the persimmon. Culture in India began in the Nilgiris. The tree has been grown for a long time in North Vietnam, in the mountains of Indonesia above 3,500 ft (1,000 m) and in the Philippines. It was introduced into Queensland, Australia, about 1885.

It has been cultivated on the Mediterranean coast of France, Italy, and other European countries, and in southern Russia and Algeria for more than a century. The first trees were introduced into Palestine in 1912 and others were later brought in from Sicily and America.

Seeds first reached the United States in 1856 when they were sent from Japan by Commodore Perry. Grafted trees were imported in 1870 by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and distributed to California and the southern states. Other importations were made by private interests until 1919. Seeds, cuttings, budwood and live trees of numerous types were brought into the United States at various times from 1911 to 1923 by government plant explorers and the tree has been found best adapted to central and southern California, Arizona, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Georgia, Alabama, southeastern Virginia, and northern Florida. A few specimens have been grown in southern Maryland, eastern Tennessee, Illinois, Indiana, Pennsylvania, New York, Michigan and Oregon.

By 1930, California had over 98,000 bearing trees and nearly 97,000 non-bearing, on 3,000 acres (1,214 ha). California production in 1965 amounted to 2,100 tons. Real estate development reduced persimmon groves to 540 acres by 1968. In 1970, California produced 1,600 tons–92% of the total U.S. crop.

In parts of Central America, Japanese persimmons have been planted from sea-level to 5,000 ft (1,524 m). The tree was first grown in Brazil by Japanese immigrants. By 1961, the total crop was 2,271,046,000 fruits, mainly in the State of Ceará, followed by Pernambuco and Piaui, with Bahia far behind. At present, the largest orchards are mainly in the States of Sao Paulo, Parana and Rio Grande do Sul, with lesser groves in Minais Gerais and Espirtu Santo. Of 111,412 acres (45,088 ha) all told, 60,336 acres (24,418 ha) are in Ceará. Israel and Italy have developed commercial plantings, and cultivar trials began in 1976 with a view to establishing persimmon-growing for export in southeastern Queensland.

Japanese Persimmon
Plate LX: JAPANESE PERSIMMON, Diospyros kaki 'Tanenashi'

Of the 2,000 cultivars known in China, cuttings of 52, from the provinces of Honan, Shensi and Shansi, were brought into the United States in 1914. J. Russell Smith, an esteemed economic-geographer, collected a number of types near the Great Wall of China in 1925 and some of the trees still survive in his derelict orchard in the Blue Ridge Mountains of southern Virginia. Over 800 kinds are grown in Japan but less than 100 are considered important. Among prominent cultivars are the non-astringent 'Fuyu', 'Jiro', 'Gosho' and 'Suruga'; the astringent 'Hiratanenashi', 'Hachiya', 'Aizumishirazu', 'Yotsumizo' and 'Yokono'. It was formerly believed that the flesh color and astringency can vary considerably depending on whether or not the flowers were effectively pollinated, and cultivars were classed as: 1) Pollination Constants; and 2) Pollination Variants.

It has been recently discovered that there are two different mechanisms affecting astringency; one is degree of pollination, the other is the amount of ethanol produced in the seeds and accumulated in the flesh. Pollination Variant fruits with naturally high levels of ethanol lose astringency on the tree. So does Pollination Constant 'Fuyu' but other non-astringent Pollination Constant cultivars have been found to have low levels of ethanol. Pomologists at Kyoto University, Japan, have classified 40 cultivars into 4 types depending upon the ways or degrees their fruits lose astringency on the tree and upon flesh color –Pollination Constant Non-astringent (PCNA), Pollination Variant Non-astringent (PVNA), Pollination Variant Astringent (PVA) and Pollination Constant Astringent (PCA). They evidently have not studied seedless cultivars.

Dr. H.H. Hume, of the University of Florida, separated 13 seeded and seedless (or nearly seedless) cultivars according to the earlier pollination classification, and Drs. Camp and Mowry added 'Fuyu'. The following 8 comprise Group 1:

'Costata'–conical, pointed, somewhat 4-sided, 2 5/8 in (6.5 cm) long, 2 1/8 in (5.4 cm) wide, with salmon-yellow skin, light-yellow flesh, with no seeds; or dark flesh and a few seeds. Astringent until fully ripe, then sweet; late (Oct.-Nov. in Florida). Keeps very well.

'Fuyu' (or 'Fuyugaki')–oblate, faintly 4-sided, 2 in (5 cm) long; 2 3/4 in (7 cm) wide; skin deep-orange; flesh light-orange; firm when ripe; non-astringent even when unripe; with few seeds or none. Keeps well; excellent packer and shipper. It is the most popular non-astringent persimmon in Florida. 'Matsumoto Early Fuyu' ripens three weeks earlier.

'Hachiya'–oblong-conical, 3 3/4 in (9.5 cm) long, 3 1/4 in (8.25 cm) wide; skin glossy, deep orange-red; flesh dark-yellow with occasional black streaks; astringent until fully ripe and soft, then sweet and rich. Seedless or with a few seeds. Midseason to late. Much used in Japan for drying. Tree vigorous, well-formed and prolific in Kulu Valley, India. Scanty bearer in southeastern United States; does well on D. virginiana in Florida, but tends to growth-ring cracking; often prolific in California.

'Ormond'–oblong-conical, 2 5/8 in (6.5 cm) long, 1 7/8 in (4.7 cm) thick. Skin reddish-yellow with thin bloom; flesh orange-red, moderately juicy; seeds large. Very late (Nov. and Dec. in Florida). Keeps well.

'Tamopan'–Introduced from China in 1905, again in 1916 (S.P.I. Nos. 16912, 16921, 26773). Broad oblate, somewhat 4-sided; indented around the middle or closer to the base; 3 to 5 in (7.5-12.5 cm) wide; skin thick, orange-red; flesh light-orange, usually astringent until fully ripe, then sweet and rich. In some parts of China and Japan said to be non-astringent. Seedless or nearly so. Of medium quality; late (Nov.) in Florida; midseason in California. Was being grown commercially in North Carolina and at Glen St. Mary, Florida, in 1916.

'Tanenashi'–round-conical, 3 1/3 in (8.3 cm) long, 3 3/8 in (8.5 cm) wide; skin light-yellow or orange, turning orange-red; thick; flesh yellow, astringent until soft, then sweet; seedless. Early; prolific. Much esteemed. Much used for drying in Japan. Leading cultivar in southeastern United States without pollination. In California tends to bear in alternate years.

'Triumph'–oblate, faintly 4-sided; of small to medium size; skin yellowish to dark orange-red. Flesh yellowish-red, translucent, soft, juicy; seedless or with 5 to 8 seeds; astringent until fully ripe, then sweet. Of high quality. Medium-late. In Florida begins in September and lasts until mid-November.

'Tsuru'–long-conical, pointed; 3 3/8 in (8.5 cm) long, 2 3/8 in (6 cm) wide; skin bright orange-red, turning red with purple bloom when mature; flesh orange-yellow or dark-yellow, granular; astringent until fully ripe; with few or no seeds. Very late.

Group 2:

'Gailey'–roundish to conical with rounded apex; small; skin dull-red, pebbled; flesh dark, firm, juicy, of good flavor. Bears many male flowers regularly and is planted for cross-pollination.

'Hyakume'–round-oblong to round-oblate, somewhat 4-angled and flat at both ends; 2 3/4 in (7 cm) long, 3 1/8 in (8 cm) wide; skin pale dull-yellow to light-orange, with brown russeting when ripe; flesh dark-brown, crisp, sweet, non-astringent whether hard or ripe. Midseason. Fairly good quality; somewhat unattractive externally. Stores and ships well.

'Okame'–round-oblate, 2 3/8 in (6 cm) long, 3 1/8 in (8 cm) wide; skin orange-yellow turning to bright-red with waxy bloom; flesh light but brownish around the seeds; sometimes seedless; sweet, of excellent quality. Fairly early, beginning about Sept. 1 in Florida. Productive.

'Yeddo-ichi'–oblate, 2 1/2 in (6.25 cm) long, 3 in (7.5 cm) wide; skin dark orange-red with a bloom; flesh dark-brown with purplish tint; sweet, rich, non-astringent whether hard or ripe. Of high quality.

'Yemon'–oblate, 4-sided; 2 1/4 in (5.7 cm) long, 3 1/4 in (8.25 cm) wide; skin light-yellow becoming reddish with orange-yellow mottling; flesh red-brown or light-colored, astringent at first, sweet after softening; seedless or with few seeds and then dark around the seeds. Of high quality, but becomes too soft for shipping.

'Zengi' ('Zengimaru')–round or round-oblate, 1 3/4 in (4.5 cm) long, 2 1/4 in (5.6 cm) wide. Skin dark orange-red or yellow-red; flesh dark with black streaks; sweet even when hard; with some seeds. Early, prolific; of medium quality.

Cultivars that are especially hardy in Maryland, Pennsylvania and Virginia include: 'Atome', 'Benigaki', 'Delicious', 'Eureka', 'Great Wall', 'Manerh', 'Okame', 'Peiping', 'Pen', 'Shaumopan', 'Sheng,' 'Tsurushigaki', 'Yokono', etc.

'Delicious' is oblate, medium to large; skin is smooth, light-red; flesh light-yellow, non-astringent when hard, but more flavorful when soft; contains a few seeds; tree is vigorous and a regular bearer.

'Eureka' (from Texas) is oblate, medium to large, puckered at calyx, bright orange-red, astringent; of good quality; drought and frost-resistant; late (Nov. in Florida). One of the most satisfactory in Florida.

'Great Wall' is small, flat, 4-sided with fine black stripes extending from the calyx; astringent, dry-fleshed; tree is vigorous, a biennial bearer; does well in Florida.

'Hanafuyu' is oblate, non-astringent and usually seedless; late-midseason; tree is small, bears regularly but yield is low; prone to premature shedding of fruit; fairly common in northern Florida.

'Ichikikeijiro' is medium-large, orange, non-astringent; early-ripening; tree is not vigorous but still this cultivar is among the best of the non-astringent class in Florida.

'Jumbu' resembles 'Fuyu' but is somewhat more conical and larger; non-astringent; edible either firm or soft. Ripens a little later than 'Tuyu'; of good quality.

'Ogasha' is oblate, non-astringent and usually seedless; prone to immature shedding of fruit; fairly common in northern Florida.

'Sheng' is large, ribbed, puckered at calyx, astringent; popular in Florida; bears annually when pollinated.

'Shogatsu' is flattened, non-astringent, of fair quality; bears an abundance of male flowers. Does well in Florida.

'Siajo' is small, astringent, of good quality and flavor; performs well in Florida.

'Taber No. 23' is round to oblate with flat apex; fairly small; skin is dark-red, stippled. Begins to ripen in September in Florida.

'Yamato Hyakume' is large, with red skin; has little tannin when seed content is low; tends to growth-ring cracking; is a heavy bearer in Florida.

'Yokono' is large, orange-red, astringent, of good quality; bears well but tends to shed fruit; keeps well.

Maru is a group name for several roundish types of Japanese persimmon with brilliant orange-red skin, cinnamon-colored flesh; medium to small in size; flesh is juicy, sweet, richly flavored; they have excellent keeping quality after ripening, store and ship well and are very decorative.

At the Pomological Station, Coonor, India, an unnamed type and a named cultivar, 'Dai Dai Maru' have performed well. The unnamed cultivar is broad at the base, large, attractive, deep-red, astringent until fully ripe, then very sweet; bears well regularly. The tree is semi-erect.

'Dai Dai Maru' has a broadly rounded apex, is of medium size; orange-red, glossy, with a slight bloom; has dark flesh, is not edible until fully cured; seedless unless cross-pollinated; bears good crops regularly. The tree is of semi-erect habit.

In Brazil, cultivars are sorted into 3 groups. Group 1, 'Sibugaki', includes those that are yellow-fleshed, always astringent whether seedless or not ('Taubaté', 'Hachiya', 'Trakoukaki', 'Hatemya', etc.).

'Taubatá', the most popular of this group, is round, slightly flattened, large, yellow-fleshed, very astringent; highly perishable, lasting only 3 to 4 days after ripening.

Group 2, 'Amagaki', includes those that are yellow-fleshed, never astringent whether seedless or not ('Jiro', 'Tuyu', 'Hannagosho').

'Hannagosho' is of excellent quality but in Florida is slow in losing astringency and the tree is deficient in male flowers.

'Jiro' is second to 'Fuyu' in importance in Japan; is of high quality and ships well. The fruit is colorful and the tree vigorous in Florida.

Group 3, 'Variavel', or 'Variaveis', includes those that are astringent when they have several seeds, and partially or totally non-astringent when they have only one or a few seeds. The flesh is yellow when there are no seeds and dark when seeds are present ('Rama Forte', 'Guiombo', 'Luiz de Queiroz', 'Hyakume', 'Chocolate', etc.).

'Guiombo' (perhaps the same as 'Korean') is one of the best in Florida, with thin skin; but it is a biennial bearer when young.

'Rama Forte', the most popular of this group is oblate, medium to large, with dark-yellow flesh, or dark-brown when there are many seeds; keeps well–8 to 10 days at room temperature after ripening; yields 30% more than 'Taubaté' and its branches are less apt to break under a heavy crop.

The Instituto Agronomico do Estado de Sao Paulo has developed various promising hybrids.

In 1922, seeds of 'Kai Sam T'sz' (chicken-heart persimmon) from Canton, China, were sent to the United States Department of Agriculture as a subtropical cultivar which might be appropriate for southern Florida and the West Indies in contrast to the hardier types brought in from Japan and northern and central China, but it seems to have soon dropped out of sight.

Among commercial cultivars in Japan not already mentioned are:

'Suruga' (distributed in 1959); orange-red, non-astringent, very sweet, keeps well.

'Gosho', orange-red, non-astringent, sweet, of high quality but giving a low yield because of excessive shedding of immature fruits.

'Hiratanenashi', oblate, somewhat 4-sided, astringent, thick-skinned; seedless; of high quality, but keeps only a short time after curing; mostly used for drying.

'Aizumishirazu', rounded, astringent, black-spotted around seeds; of fair quality; bears well.

'Yotsumizo', small, astringent, usually seedless, sweet after curing; bears well; often dried.

Of six cultivars tested in Queensland ('Tanenashi', 'Hyakume', 'Dai Dai Maru', 'Tsuru Magri', 'Flat Seedless', and 'Nightingale'), all grafted on D. lotus, only 'Nightingale' proved satisfactory in fruit quality and yield in an assessment made after 3 years of fruiting.

'Nightingale' is classed as PCA (pollination constant, astringent); is conical, 3 1/2 in (9 cm) long; red; of distinctive flavor; with an average of 2 1/2 seeds per fruit. The tree is semi-dwarf and fairly precocious.


Some cultivars in certain locations and under some conditions, will fruit abundantly without cross-pollination, but this trait is not dependable. In commercial groves, the cultivar known as 'Gailey', which regularly produces many male flowers, is interplanted to insure adequate pollination. The formula is one male for every 8 female trees, uniformly dispersed throughout the grove; or 12 to 24 pollinating trees per acre (30-60 per ha). Japanese farmers sometimes plant the pollinating trees as a hedge around the grove. If hand-pollination of early cultivars is necessary, unopened male buds are collected, dried, opened and the pollen separated and stored. When needed, it is mixed with skimmed milk or club moss (Lycopodium) and applied at 1/7 to 2/7 oz per acre (10-20 g per ha).

If the flowers are not effectively pollinated, the entire crop of fruit may fall prematurely. This is a fault of the cultivar 'Isu' in Japan. Losses can be reduced by girdling the tree after flowering but the practice has the effect of retarding growth. If the weather is hot and dry at blooming time, pollination will be inadequate and very few fruits will be set. The maintenance of bee colonies (1 or 2 hives for every 2 1/2 acres, or per ha) in persimmon orchards will enhance pollination, especially in cultivar 'Fuyu'.


The Japanese persimmon needs a subtropical to mild-temperate climate. It will not fruit in tropical lowlands. In Brazil, the tree is considered suitable for all zones favorable to Citrus, but those zones with the coldest winters induce the highest yields. The atmosphere may range from semi-arid to one of high humidity.

Trees in the Middle Atlantic States have been known to have withstood temperatures as low as 20º F (-6.67º C) and to have remained in excellent condition and fruitful after 40 years.


The tree is not particular as to soil, and does well on any moderately fertile land with deep friable subsoil. In Florida, a sandy loam with clay subsoil promotes good growth. While the young tree needs plentiful watering, good drainage is essential.


Indonesians propagate the tree by means of root suckers. In the Orient, selected cultivars are raised from seed or grafted onto wild rootstocks of the same species, or onto the close relative, D. lotus L. In the eastern United States, the trees are grafted onto the native American persimmon, D. virginiana. This rootstock significantly contributes to cold-resistance. California growers have found D. kaki the most satisfactory rootstock, D. lotus rootstock resulting in much lower yields.

Seeds for the production of rootstocks need no pretreatment. They are planted in seedbeds or directly in the nursery row 8 to 12 in (20-30 cm) apart with 3 to 3 1/2 ft (0.9-1.06 m) between the rows. After a season of growth, they may be whip-grafted close to the surface of the soil, using freshly cut scions or scions from dormant trees kept moist in sphagnum moss.

Cleft-grafting is preferred on larger stock and for top-working old trees. In India, cleft-grafting on stem has been 88.9% successful; while cleft-grafting on crown and tongue-grafting on stem have been 73.4% successful when the grafted plants were left for 2 weeks at about 77º F (25º C) and relative humidity of 75% for 2 weeks before planting.

In the Kulu Valley, India, scions are grafted onto 2-year-old D. lotus seedlings which are mounded with earth to cover the graft until it begins to sprout. At the Fruit Research Station, Kandaghat, 2-year-old D. lotus seedlings were used as rootstock for veneer and tongue grafts from cv 'Hachiya' between late June and the third week of August. Success rates ranged from 80 to 100%.

In Palestine, trees grafted on D. lotus and grown on light soil are dwarfish, fruit heavily at first, but are weak and short-lived. Those grafted on D. virginiana are larger and vigorous and bear heavily consistently. The only disadvantage is that the shallow root system fans out to 65 ft (20 m) from the base of the tree and wherever the roots are injured by cultivation, suckers spring up and become a nuisance.


The soil should be well prepared–deeply plowed and enriched with organic matter. Trees should be set out at spacings ranging from 15 x 5 ft (4.5 x l.5 m) to 20 x 20 ft (6 x 6 m), depending on the habit of the cultivar. In Japan, 404.7 plants per acre (1,000 per ha) may be installed at the outset, to be thinned down to 85 trees per acre (200 per ha) in 10-15 years.

Good results have been obtained with a fertilizer mixture of 4 to 6% N, 8 to 10% P and 3 to 6% K at the rate of 1 lb (.45 kg) per tree per year of age. Generally the application is made in spring, but some growers apply half in the spring, half in July. Over-fertilization or excessive amounts of nitrogen fertilizers will cause shedding of fruits.

Young trees are pruned back to 2 1/2 ft to 3 ft (.74-.91 m) when planted and later the new shoots are thinned with a view to forming a well-shaped tree. Some cultivars tend to develop a willowy growth and require cutting back occasionally to avoid the development of weak branches which break when heavy with fruit. Annual pruning during the first 4 to 5 winters is desirable in some cultivars. If a tree tends to overbear and shows signs of decline, it should be drastically cut back to give it a fresh start.

After flowering, the trees should be irrigated every 3 weeks on light soil, every month on heavier soil, until time for harvest. One California grower, with trees on deep river loam, has provided furrow irrigation every 2 weeks from April through September. Branches are fragile and must be propped when heavily laden with fruits.

Cropping and Yield

Many cultivars begin to bear 3-4 years after planting out; others after 5-6 years. Shedding of many blossoms, immature and nearly mature fruits is characteristic of the Japanese persimmon as well as the tendency toward alternate bearing. The annual yield of a young tree ranges from 50 to 96 lbs (22.6-40.8 kg); of a full-grown tree, 330 to 550 lbs (150-250 kg). Estimated yield in Brazil is 6.5 tons per acre (15 tons per ha), but yields will vary with the cultivar and cultural practices.

Harvesting takes place in fall and early winter. Late ripening cultivars may be picked after hard frosts or light-snowfall. Japan produces about 300,000 tons per year.

Japanese growers use color charts to determine when each cultivar is ready for harvest. Astringent cultivars are picked when fully mature but hard and are cured before marketing.


In the Orient, much of the crop is left in piles covered by bamboo mats to cure (near-freeze) naturally and is marketed throughout the winter. In some parts of China, the fruit is cured in covered pits by introducing the smoke from burning dung. There are several other methods of curing: soaking in vinegar or immersing in boiling water and letting stand for 12 hours. 'Hachiya' fruits kept in warm water –104º F (40º C)–for 24 hours will be firm and non-astringent 2 days after treatment. One practice is to leave the astringent fruits in lime water for 2 days but tests have shown no advantage of a lime solution over pure water except that lime disinfects and can prevent the rotting that might follow soaking.

In Japan, the fruits may be sprayed with ethanol, or stored for 10 days to 2 weeks in kegs which previously contained sake; or they may be stored in air-tight containers with ethylene gas for 3 days. Carbon dioxide is widely employed and the treatment consists of storing in a 95% CO2 atmosphere for 24 hours at 68º to 77º F (20º-25º C), but the fruit softens very quickly thereafter. In Brazil, successful curing has been achieved by immersing 'Taubate' persimmons in 1,000 ppm solution of ethephon (an ethylene generator) for 1 hour and then storing at room temperature for 4 days. Large quantities are cured by exposure to the fumes of alcohol (aguardiente), acetylene gas from combustion of calcium carbonate, or gas from burning sawdust, in hermetically sealed chambers at temperatures between 68º and 82.4º F (20º and 28º C) at relative humidity of 80%. Various other chemical processes and gamma radiation have been successfully employed in other countries.

A simple method was discovered in California some years ago. The newly picked fruits were merely pierced once at the apex with a needle dipped in alcohol, then the fruits were layered with straw in a tightly closed box for 10 days. The homeowner may merely keep the fruits at room temperature in a closed vessel or plastic bag for 2-4 days with bananas, pears, tomatoes, apples, or other fruits which give off ethylene gas. In India, the persimmons are individually paper-wrapped and placed in alternate rows with 'Kieffer' pears in a closed container and are edible in 3 days. Non-astringent cultivars need no curing.

Packing, Keeping Quality and Storage

In California, persimmons are graded by size, then tissue-wrapped and packed in peach boxes for rail shipment in refrigerated cars. Packing in other areas is similar. Astringent types soften in 2 or 3 days after treatment and quickly become overripe. Non-astringent types are usually harder than astringent types when picked, and they therefore ship and keep better. Persimmons have been kept for 2 months at 30º F (-1.11º C) and 85-90% relative humidity. 'Triumph' is frequently stored in Israel for as long as 4 months at 30º F (-1.11º C). Persimmons have been kept in good condition for several months in sealed 0.06 mm polyethylene bags at 32º F (0º C).

Spraying the bearing branches with gibberellic acid 3 days before harvest has retarded maturity on the tree; has doubled the storage life of astringent types after curing.

Pests and Diseases

In Brazil, premature fall of 'Fuyu' is partly linked to heavy infestation by the mite, Aceria diospyri. Spraying with Sevin 85 ppm 3 times at 30-day intervals right after petal fall controls the mite and increases yield. Retithrips syriacus feeds on and blemishes the leaves and fruit skin in Palestine but has been controlled by spraying with nicotine sulfate. The greenhouse thrips (Heliothrips haemorrhoidalis) blemishes fruits in Queensland. San José scale is combatted by a dormant application of Bordeaux in diesel emulsion in India. In Florida, white peach scale, Pseudaulacaspis pentagona, has required control and a twig girdler, Onsideres cingulatus, has been troublesome. Also, a flat-headed borer drills into the bark and the wood causing oozing of gum and decline in vigor. The main enemies in the eastern United States are mealybugs which distort young shoots and kill all new growth unless controlled. They do not seriously affect mature trees.

In Brazil and Queensland, fruit flies may attack the fruits, especially in dry years. Tree-ripe persimmons are sought by all kinds of birds, especially by parrots and crows in India, where flying foxes are a nocturnal menace. The less astringent types seem to be preferred by all of these predators. Bird-repellent sprays have given good control in Queensland. There, sunburn affects marketability especially of 'Tanenashi' and 'Tsuru magri'.

In India, low germination rates of planted seeds has been traced to dry rot caused by Penicillium sp. It can be controlled by pretreatment with an appropriate fungicide.

D. lotus rootstock is subject to root rot and crown gall in Florida but resistant to wilt caused by Cephalosporium diospyri which induces severe defoliation and has killed trees on D. virginiana rootstock. In Brazil, Cercospora may spot the leaves, and a virus causes "mosaic"–mottling of leaves and premature leaf fall, shedding of flowers, and necrotic spots on fruits; also a different necrosis on the tree and the bark of shoots, twigs and branches that causes die-back. Anthracnose occurs on fruits that have slightly cracked or have been pierced by insects. In Florida, leaf spot, algal leaf spot, twig blight, twig dieback, root rot, thread blight and other fungal diseases may occur.

Food Uses

Fully ripe Japanese persimmons are usually eaten out-of-hand or cut in half and served with a spoon, preferably after chilling. Some people prefer to add lemon juice or cream and a little sugar. The flesh may be added to salads, blended with ice cream mix or yogurt, used in pancakess, cakes, gingerbread, cookies, gelatin desserts, puddings, mousse, or made into jam or marmalade. The pureed pulp can be blended with cream cheese, orange juice, honey and a pinch of salt to make an unusual dressing.

Ripe fruits can be frozen whole or pulped and frozen in the home freezer. Large quantities of 'Tamopan' are preserved by drying. Drying is commonly practiced in Brazil and the dried fruit is popular throughout the country. Some California growers dry the 'Hachiya' by a Chinese method. The fruits are picked when mature but firm, are peeled and hung up by their stems for 30-50 days to dry in the sun. Kneading every 4-5 days is necessary to give uniform texture and improve flavor. Then they are taken down and sweated for 10 days in heaps under mats. Sugar crystals form on the surface. Lastly, they are hung up again to dry in the wind. In the Orient, the peelings are dried separately and are mixed in with fruits when packed for sale. An inferior product is made by slitting the skin with a knife, then spreading the fruits out on mats to dry for several weeks, then sweating them in piles, and the product is sold at a very low price.

In Indonesia, ripe fruits are stewed until soft, then pressed flat and dried in the sun. Early travelers called such fruits "red figs". Intestinal compaction from consumption of persimmons in Israel has been eliminated by drying the fruits before marketing, and some dried fruits are now being exported to Europe. Surplus persimmons may be converted into molasses, cider, beer and wine. Roasted seeds have served as a coffee substitute.

Food Value Per 100 g of Edible Portion*

Calories 77
Moisture 78.6 g
Protein 0.7 g
Fat 0.4 g
Carbohydrates 19.6 g
Calcium 6 mg
Phosphorus 26 mg
Iron 0.3 mg
Sodium 6 mg
Potassium 174 mg
Magnesium 8 mg
Carotene 2,710 I.U.
Thiamine 0.03 mg
Riboflavin 0.02 mg
Niacin 0.1 mg
Ascorbic Acid 11 mg

*Average values.

The astringent substance in the persimmon, generally called "tannin", has been much studied and variously defined as knowledge of tannins and other phenols has unfolded. To put it simply, it is classed as a condensed tannin (proanthocyanidin) of complex structure.

One would be wise to eat only fully ripe persimmons from which the tannin has been almost entirely eliminated. The skin, which retains some tannin, should not be eaten.

Other Uses

Tannin from unripe Japanese persimmons has been employed in brewing sake, also in dyeing and as a wood preservative. Juice of small, inedible wild persimmons, crushed whole, calyx, seeds and all, is diluted with water and painted on paper or cloth as an insect- and moisture-repellent.

The wood of the tree is fairly hard and heavy, black with streaks of orange-yellow, salmon, brown or gray; close-grained; takes a smooth finish and is prized in Japan for fancy inlays, though it has an unpleasant odor.

Medicinal Uses: A decoction of the calyx and fruit stem is sometimes taken to relieve hiccups, coughs and labored respiration.