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Edible and Beautiful North American Native Persimmon Tree

(WKOW) — Plant a North American persimmon for a bit of shade and fruit you and the birds will enjoy.

The American persimmon (Diospyros virginiana) is native to eastern United States but adaptable to climates across North America. New hardy varieties have been introduced by Canada.

The botanical name means Divine Fruit or Food. And once you taste a ripe persimmon you just might agree.

Persimmons grow 35 to 50 feet tall. Most native persimmons are dioecious, meaning each tree only produces male or female flowers. So, you may need two trees to produce fruit high in vitamin A and containing more vitamin C than citrus.

The bark on mature trees is attractive and its glossy dark green leaves turn a beautiful yellow-green, yellow or reddish purple in fall.

Don’t rush the harvest or you’ll experience the astringent flavor of unripe persimmons. Once touched by frost, the small fruit develop a sweet nutty flavor.

Gardeners interested in learning more about growing native fruit should check out North American Fruit Explorers (www.nafex.org). This group connects home gardeners, orchardists, researchers and others to useful fruit-related information. The Northern Nut Growers Association (www.northernnutgrowers.org) members include amateurs and professionals interested in growing nut trees.

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