Last Fruit Standing: Persimmons

Published Winter, 2008
Edible Portland

Photo by Kate Madden

Late autumn offers its share of haunting images, but few are as exotic as a persimmon tree set against the smoky-gray sky. Nearly invisible until the first frost, this shockingly bright fruit remains on the tree well into winter, after the leaves have fallen, much like Christmas tree ornaments dangling from bare branches. The ripened fruit clinging to withering limbs seems to hint at autumn's disinclination to give way to winter.

A mature American persimmon tree (Diospyros virginiana) can reach up to 60 feet and yield between 75 and 100 pounds of fruit annually. Though bountiful from Pennsylvania to Florida and west to Illinois, due to their fragile nature, American persimmons are not available commercially outside of the eastern and southern United States.

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