Also written by Lindsay:
Thank you to Marie Viljoen@Flickr (and also of the weblog, 66 Square Feet) for capturing this lovely late autumn image (original image | Botany Photo of the Day Flickr Pool)! As Marie notes in the text accompanying the photograph on Flickr, this was photographed during a foraging excursion with Steve Brill.
Known as common or American persimmon, Michael Dirr describes Diospyros virginiana in his authoritative Dirr’s Hardy Trees and Shrubs as: “[a] native species [that] will never win a landscape beauty contest”. Despite an unattractiveness to ornamental horticulture, this eastern North American species is a relative to the southwest Asian and southeast European species bearing the “fruit of the gods”, Diospyros lotus. The word diospyros is a combination of the Greek word roots dios, divine, and pyros, wheat.
The fruit of American persimmon is a little tougher to negotiate than Diospyros lotus, however, having an unpleasant, astringent taste if eaten when not completely ripe. Depending on the tribe, southern nations of the Anishinaabe peoples of eastern North America called Diospyros virginiana “putchamin”, “pasiminan”, or “pessamin”. These first nations also taught early European settlers of what was to be the eastern USA that the fruit ought to be harvested after the first frost, when the fruits become sweeter. Today, Diospyros kaki, or Japanese persimmon, is the most widely cultivated species.