Diospyros kaki. JAPANESE PERSIMMON. China, Japan
EBENACEAE (Ebony family)
Grown for ornament, persimmons stand out in private gardens where they often occupy a place of distinction. After the leaves fall in autumn, the bright orange fruits light up the trees, so it is easy to find them. Variety 'Hachiya,' has fruit 4 inches long and 3 inches across that are very good to eat when just ripe, for those who have acquired the taste, and are so abundant that owners will probably give you one on request. See them at 658 Mayfield Avenue, due south of The Knoll on Lomita Drive, and one to the northeast of the Bookstore, 50 feet east of the dawn redwoods. Variety 'Fuyu,' with oblate tomato-shaped fruit grows in the small enclosure at the southeast corner of the Old Union Courtyard. Both varieties are sold in local markets. Persimmons can be sun-dried after peeling and prepared in many other ways, depending on the variety, of which there are many. For more about persimmons see www.crfg.org/pubs/ff/persimmon.html.
The American persimmon (D. virginiana) has a distinctly smaller, walnut-sized fruit but gave us the name persimmon, which derives from an Algonquin word. It is mainly collected from wild trees. Another species, the ebony tree D. ebenus that grows in India and Sri Lanka, is the tree that yields the very hard and very dark timber most often called ebony (as is Bauhinia, which is also grown in plantations as a crop in Madagascar and Mauritius).
Illustration: McMinn, Howard E. and Evelyn Maino. 1951. An illustrated manual of Pacific coast trees; with lists of trees recommended for various uses on the Pacific coast by H. W. Shepherd. 2d ed. Berkeley, Calif.: University of California Press.
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Name derivation, genus | species: from Greek Dios (Jove's) and pyros (grain) | Japanese name for treeRelated material: Canopy Trees for Palo Alto Tree Library