Monday, October 5, 2009

Diospyros virginiana...our native persimmon

If "consistency is the Hobgoblin of small minds (Emerson, Churchill, et alia) I think we have to concede that texture is the Bugbane of this beautiful native fruit. The bloom is, well....they seem to glow from within, and the flavor, so long as the fruit is truly ripe is pleasant and uniquely nuanced. Still there's that issue of consistency or texture. Not good. Tradition suggests that frost is required to ripen the fruits, breaking down the astringent tannins. Actually, the fruits will ripen themselves without freezing. Two summers ago extreme late summer heat ripened most of the persimmons in August. Still, despite wonderful flavor, the fruit feels, in the mouth, as though it had rotted.

When persimmons are cooked with they are usually used to flavor something baked, a bread or a cake. I don't know. They are one of the fruits that I enjoy tasting for a few weeks once a year but one that might get old if it were available year round. Maybe I'm just fickle.

The trees are dioecious and have incredible blocky bark. Though they seem to tolerate pretty much any conditions, when you find stands of them in the wild, they are often growing in fairly moist to wet conditions. We have a good number of trees at the Arboretum; at the parking lot for Beech Spring Pond, one tree overhangs the end of the lot and there's another across the street about 50 feet. There are a couple of mature trees around the parking lot in the National Grove of State Trees.

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