Lessons of the Fig #3: Persimmon

The other strong contender to pawpaw for the title of native North American fig is the (American) persimmon. In major ways, persimmon is a stronger contender for the continental fig title than is pawpaw. The size, shape, look, edible skin – and arguably texture and taste – of persimmon fruit is more similar to fig than is pawpaw, but I give the nod to the pawpaw tree because its bark looks so similar to that of fig bark, and it has a more tropical and sometimes more bushy growth in general like a fig tree or bush, and with large leaves closer in size to fig leaves than are persimmon leaves.

That said, a persimmon fruit with its calyx removed could be mistaken for a misshapen fig, and could be eaten skin and all, excepting some seeds, whereas from outward appearance a pawpaw fruit (except in extreme cases) could not be mistaken for a fig fruit, and of course could not be eaten whole like a fig, since pawpaw skin is inedible, and the seeds are large. Regardless, pawpaw, persimmon, and fig are all three gooey sweet dessert-type fruits with a lot of similarities.

A ripe persimmon is a small gelatinous sugary tasty mess of a fruit, like a fig, though typically with inedible seeds and not a lot of variation in skin and pulp color, unlike figs. A bowl of American Persimmon from Shagbark Farm Ohio LLC:

Persimmon has something of the small and squishy and baggy body of an Improved Celeste fig, though improved persimmon varieties can be somewhat larger and more shapely. Improved Celeste fig:

The American persimmon diospyros virginiana literally means Zeus wheat, also translated as, fruit of the gods, or divine fruit. Persimmon’s native range is very similar to that of pawpaw – only slightly more southern – ranging from the midwest to the Atlantic Ocean and from almost as far north as Canada south into Florida. Like the pawpaw, the persimmon can be grown continent-wide, from the Atlantic to the Pacific, from Canada to Florida, in a zone as cold as 5 and possibly 4.

Persimmon is not as precocious to fruit or rampant to grow as are figs and elderberry, but then few fruit trees and bushes are. In addition to well-protected figs, the two great dessert fruits that can be grown and ripened across the continent and beyond, including in very cold and snowy regions, are the astounding pawpaw and the divine persimmon – surely the two most premier fruits for growers in cold zones – dessert fruits that are fully winter hardy.

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