Herb: American Persimmon


Latin name: Diospyros virginiana


Family: Ebenaceae (Ebony Family)



Medicinal use of American Persimmon:

A decoction of the boiled fruit was used to treat bloody stools. (This probably refers to the unripe fruit, which is very astringent). The leaves are rich in vitamin C and are used as an antiscorbutic. A decoction of the inner-bark is highly astringent. It has been used as a mouth rinse in the treatment of thrush and sore throats. Used externally as a wash for warts or cancers.

Description of the plant:



Plant:
Deciduous
Tree

Height:
20 m
(66 feet)

Flovering:
June

Habitat of the herb:

Dry woods, old fields and clearings, on light well-drained sandy soils. Found on most soil types from sands to shales and mud bottomlands.

Edible parts of American Persimmon:

Fruit - raw, cooked or dried and used in breads, cakes, pies, puddings etc. About the size of a plum, the fruit has an exquisitely rich flavour when it is fully ripe (and almost at the point of going bad) but it is very harsh and astringent before then. The fruit may not ripen properly in a cool summer, though if it is frosted it normally develops a very good flavour. The fruit can also be harvested in the autumn, preferably after a frost, and bletted. (This is a process where the fruit is kept in a cool place and only eaten when it is very soft and almost at the point of going rotten). Much of the fruit on trees in a relatively sunny position at Kew after a relatively warm summer in 1996 was still not fully ripe, though it was very nearly so and ripened well off the tree. The fruit can also be dried and used in bread, cakes etc. The fruit is up to 4.5cm in diameter. Molasses can be made from the fruit pulp. An oil obtained from the seeds is said to taste like peanut oil. A tea is made from the dried leaves. It is high in vitamin C and has a pleasant flavour somewhat like sassafras. The roasted seed is used as a coffee substitute.

Other uses of the herb:

Can be used as a rootstock for D. kaki. Wood - strong, hard, heavy, fine-grained, elastic, resistant to wear. A valuable wood, it is used for making wooden ware, turnery etc. It is used especially for making handles for golf clubs.

Propagation of American Persimmon:

Seed - best sown in a cold frame as soon as it is ripe. Stored seed requires cold-stratification and should be sown as early in the year as possible. It usually germinates in 1 - 6 months at 15C. Pot up the young seedlings as soon as they are large enough to handle into fairly deep pots and plant them out in early summer. Give the plants some protection from winter cold for their first winter or two outdoors. Cuttings of half-ripe wood, July/August in a frame. Layering in spring.

Cultivation of the herb:

Dry woods, old fields and clearings, on light well-drained sandy soils. Found on most soil types from sands to shales and mud bottomlands.

Known hazards of Diospyros virginiana:

None known

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.