Edible Landscaping – Introduction to the American Persimmon
Part 3 of 3 part series on Edible Landscaping
by Guest Blogger, Joseph Heckman
Another worthy candidate for edible landscaping is the American Persimmon (Diospyros virginiana). This plant grows into a modest size tree; about 20 to 50 feet tall. The trees are diœcious, meaning either male or female. Thus, if you want fruit, you will need to grow a female tree. Male trees are useful for pollination but may be unnecessary to plant if there are enough wild trees growing in nearby forest.
Persimmon fruit are orange, sweet, and luscious when fully ripe but very astringent while green. A very productive and easy to grow persimmon in the Mid-Atlantic region is the variety Meader. This cultivated variety is available from many nursery companies you can find with a web search.
Although persimmon has small flowers that do not put on a big spring show, the tree does have great fall color with a display of orange and scarlet leaves. The summer leaves are dark green and glossy on the upper leaf surface.
In my experience American Persimmon is very easy to grow. It is a reliable fruit producer at my farm every October. A single tree will likely produce far more fruit than a family can eat. Surplus fruit is said to make good feed to fatten pigs.
Besides the species introduced in this series of articles, there are many more possibilities. For more ideas about plants for edible landscaping, I recommend the book by Lee Reich, Landscaping With Fruit: Strawberry ground covers, blueberry hedges, grape arbors, and 39 other luscious fruits to make your yard an edible paradise. (A Homeowners Guide).
In addition to fruit crops, and if you have the land area, I highly recommend planting nut trees. Some species of the nut trees, such as pecan and hickory, also make good shade trees. Nut trees that grow and produce well for me in central New Jersey include pecan (northern varieties), hazelnut, black walnut, hickory, and heartnut. The Northern Nut Growers Association is good organization for learning more about growing nut crops. The classic book for this subject area is Tree Crops: A Permanent Agriculture (Conservation Classics), by J. Russell Smith.
Dr. Joseph Heckman is a soil scientist with the Rutgers New Jersey Agriculture Experiment Station. He grew up on an organic dairy farm, and has helped to organize the Rutgers Raw Milk Seminars. Heckman has written a number of articles on organic farming for Wise Traditions, the quarterly journal published by the Weston A. Price Foundation. See all his past blog posts on our Joseph Heckman, Ph.D.page.
Another article by Joseph Heckman is In Defense of Living Organic, published in That Natural Farmer.
See part 1 of this series: Paw Paw Tree is Edible Landscaping Standout
See part 2 on Juneberry Bush for Edible Berries and Seasonal Beauty