Sunday, July 28, 2013

Date plum

Here is a tree I would grow, if I had the space, and if nurseries stocked it. The date plum. It is a persimmon: Diospyros lotus. I first met it two years ago at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, when I tasted it, ripe (below). I noticed the tree again on Friday, when I saw the unripe, powdery green fruit  loading the branches. It is thought that the (very ripe) fruit may have been the source of Homer's Lotus Eaters, in his Odyssey. The Chinese call these persimmons black dates and I have seen them dried, in Chinatown.

The fat orange persimmons we see in early winter trays at greengrocers are probably mostly cultivars of Diospyros kaki, and there is a native American persimmon, too - Diospyros virginiana. Ebony is the heartwood of a tropical persimmon - Diospyros ebenum.

When ripe the small sweet date plums - about the size of a fat thimble - are as freshly sweet as chewable toffee. I'll visit again when the weather turns cold.

And if it does not rain on us, I'll lead my foraging walkers past the tree early this afternoon. It deserves to be better known.

What fruit would you grow, if you could?


  1. Wisteria and jasmine, draped over the house, dripping with flowers, fragrance and happy bees. Noordhoek wind forbids it.

  2. I would love to have an avocado tree, I eat one everyday, and would love to be able to grow them. I guess a move to California is in my future. :)

  3. A big huge lemon tree, or pomegranate, or grapefruit, or banana. However not possible to grow here in the Pacific Northwest.

  4. A Cape Rough lemon, preferably right by the kitchen door, And a "Paw Paw" - Papaya..........but as I am in Denmark I'll settle for a quince.

  5. Montgomery cherries and lemons.
    And perhaps apricots.

  6. Oh goodness, such a good question. We have peaches, Asian pears, Fuji apples and a few pineapple guava. I think I would have an orange tree if they weren't so sensitive to temperature. We also have a pomegranate and perhaps I should add an avocado. Until and unless our drought conditions change, we aren't adding more trees.

  7. Persimmon. My all time favourite.

  8. Peaches, sweet grapes and pomegranates. Med, here I come! : )

  9. Those yellow/orange peaches you can only get in syrup - we had a tree growing up and they are so good fresh (maybe any peach)! and granadilla (I've tried and failed), and loquats

  10. I thought I purchased a fuju persimmon tree in spring of 2011 (before leaves). Last year, it had those tiny date-plum sized fruits, and the nursery woman where i bought it said she'd never seen anything like it. Her grower emailed that persimmons do this from time to time when the weather is weird. Well, this year is the same, and I've learned that it is in fact d. lotus persimmon date plum, which is used as root stock for fuju. The graft died, and I'm left with a very beautiful tree, but disappointed that it is not fuju.

    Do you have any idea how tall and wide it will get? I don't have a lot of room. Have been unable to learn this on the web. Appreciate your help!

    1. The only specimen I have seen is this one, an old small-medium sized tree, about 25'. No different, I believe, from Fuju.


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