Diospyros virginiana Linnaeus. Phen: Apr-Jun; Sep-Dec (and persisting). Hab: Dry forests and woodlands, longleaf pine sandhills, prairies, disturbed places, floodplain and mesic forests, fencerows, roadsides, other disturbed areas. Dist: CT, PA, OH, IN, IL, MO, and e. KS south to s. FL and TX.
ID notes: Seedlings and fire sprouts of Diospyros virginiana are superficially very similar to Nyssa sylvatica, but can be separated in the following ways: bundle scar 1 per bud scar, narrowly crescent-shaped (vs. Nyssa with 3 distinct, circular, bundle scars arranged in a broad V pattern), leaves never with teeth (vs. Nyssa leaves sometimes with a few irregular teeth), leaves glabrate to tomentose with curly hairs (vs. glabrous or with a few straight, forward-pointing hairs), leaves with sessile to short-stipitate glands on upper surface of midrib and outer petiole, later becoming necrotic spots (vs. leaves without glands).
Origin/Endemic status: Native
Taxonomy Comments: East of the Mississippi River, D. virginiana var. virginiana has leaves cuneate to rounded at the base, with glabrous or glabrescent surfaces; mostly west of the Mississippi River and perhaps eastward along the Coastal Plain, D. virginiana var. pubescens (Pursh) Nuttall has leaves subcordate, and persistently pubescent. Though these differences seem relatively trivial, they are consistent, geographically correlated, and may be worthy of varietal recognition. Other varieties have been named based on fruit size and ripening time. Var. platycarpa Sargent of floodplain forests in the Mississippi River drainage, with exceptionally large and early-ripening fruits, may warrant recognition.
Other Comments: Persimmons are famous for their sweet and edible fruits, and infamous for the bitter-astringency of the not fully ripe fruit. The species is dioecious, the male trees appear to reach a greater size than the females. The wood is one of the heaviest and hardest in e. North America.
Synonymy: = Ar, Fl5, FNA8, GrPl, GW2, K1, K3, K4, NcTx, NE, NY, Pa, RAB, Tn, Tx, Va, W, WH3, WV; > Diospyros mosieri Small – S; > Diospyros virginiana L. – S; > Diospyros virginiana L. var. platycarpa Sarg. – F, Il; > Diospyros virginiana L. var. pubescens (Pursh) Nutt. – F, Il; > Diospyros virginiana L. var. virginiana – C, F, G, Il, Spongberg (1977)