Diospyros virginiana Linnaeus
Ebenaceae (Ebony) Family
Common Persimmon is also known as "Simmon" and "Possumwood."
Plant is a large shrub or medium-sized tree with a rounded crown, best-known by its sweet, orange fruit in autumn. Preferred habitat is alluvial soils of valleys and in dry uplands, at roadsides and in old fields, clearings and mixed forests. Distribution is throughout the Escambia region.
Leaves are 2-6 inches long, 1-3 inches wide, egg-shaped and widest at the middle; long pointed at the tip; no teeth; slightly thickened. Leaf color is shiny dark green above, whitish-green beneath; turning yellow and spotted in autumn.
Flowers are tiny bell-shaped, 4 lobes, white corolla; fragrant; almost without flower stalks (peduncle). Male and female flowers are borne on separate trees in early spring. To distinguish whether a male or female tree, look at the flower clusters -- the female tree will have flowers borne singular while male flowers will appear in clusters of two or more.
Fruit is a rounded or slightly flattened orange to purplish-brown berry. Each berry contains 4-8 large flat seeds that mature in autumn before frost, but often remain attached into the winter.
When ripe the fruit of Persimmon resembles the flavor of dates. Immature fruit contains tannin and is strongly astringent. Persimmons are consumed fresh and are used to make puddings, cakes, and beverages. American Indians made bread flavored with the pulp and stored the dried fruit like prunes. The wood of Persimmon is used to fashion golf club heads, shuttles for textile weaving, and furniture veneer. The word "persimmon" is of Algonquin origin. The scientific names is from the Greek meaning "fruit of the god Zeus."