Friday, March 25, 2011

Texas persimmons

When you start altering nature, it’s not quite clear what nature will do in response. 
Texas persimmon bloom. If you look closely, 
you can see a bug is inside.

Last fall we embarked on a frustrating quest to install a new refrigerator.  (What does this have to do with nature? Read on!) A big gorilla appliance store informed us that our driveway was too overgrown for its large trucks.  It’s a big gorilla, and only owns big trucks.

After four weeks of increasing aggravation, it dawned on me that if the gorilla’s trucks couldn’t negotiate our driveway, neither could a fire truck. It was time to trim trees. We spent a weekend whacking cedars (Ashe junipers), pruning live oaks, dragging brush and stacking firewood.

Nature is responding to the alteration favorably this time. The driveway runs smack through a Texas persimmon grove (Diospyros texana). I knew these little trees were thick on the other side of the drive, and had wanted to clear around them so they would be more visible. Trimming still needs to be done there.

But now, as we drive or walk towards our house, there is a lovely understory of fresh green developing in an unexpected place.  The persimmons are front and center, whereas before they were hidden in a cedar thicket. The cedar trees consume a huge amount of water, so I’m hoping that in their absence, the persimmons will grow more lushly and produce fruit prolifically.

These persimmons are a great wildlife plant, as they produce a small fruit that birds and other critters love.  They grow up to 35 feet tall, though ours seem to top out at 10 or 15 feet. They have an interesting multi-trunk form. Sometimes the bark peels off to show a gray/pink smooth trunk underneath. The young fruit is green and astringent, turning black and sweet when ripe. It is edible.

One of my favorite memories is of my 2-year-old, 30-lb. daughter picking ripe persimmons and feeding them to our 120-lb. yellow lab. He loved them, and she loved feeding him. Afterwards, her fingers and clothes would be stained a dark, orangey brown. The persimmons have been put to other fun kid uses over the years: included in salads of leaves and fruit, thrown at assorted targets (siblings?), and crushed for the dye.

In short, this is a great native plant to have on our property. I’m so excited to see it flourishing more visibly. Now if I can just get some help clearing the other area. Maybe I should order an even larger appliance. Hmm.


  1. I never would have thought that perhaps a fire truck couldn't get there - good thinking! We have a lot of these persimmon trees here and there. When they first started coming up, I didn't like their odd shape, but now that they're getting bigger I've grown to appreciate them a bit more.

  2. We are so covered up with cedar and live oak, any variations are greatly appreciated!

  3. How cool! We have a few persimmons on our lot, they do about as well as the rainfall lets them, but the foxes, birds, raccoons and deer enjoy the fruit in good years.

    Thanks for following Hill Country Mysteries, I followed you back here and feel richer for finding you.

  4. Thanks Kathleen, and thanks for stopping by.