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Mr. Smarty Plants - Lack of fruit on Texas persimmon

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Tuesday - July 08, 2008

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Trees
Title: Lack of fruit on Texas persimmon
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I have several Texas Persimmons on my property, most have nodules covering most of the leaves that I am presuming to be insect eggs. Between my neighbor and I we have over a dozen of these tress growing wild, but only one has fruit, which is the one without the insect infestation. Am I to presume that only one of the trees are female or is the lack of fruit due to the insect infestation?

ANSWER:

This is a very interesting question—so interesting that it sent this Mr. Smarty Plants on a research expedition to look at Diospyros texana (Texas persimmon) trees/shrubs growing in Lampasas County, Texas. Of the 20 or so trees I found, less than half had fruit on them. Of those trees with fruit, some seemed to be completely free of insect galls, others had a few leaves showing galls, and others had a moderate number of galls on some of their branches. I didn't encounter any with a very heavy infestation of galls. On the shrubs without fruit, I found about the same distribution of galls. This certainly wasn't a rigorous scientific survey and we couldn't apply any meaningful statistics to it, but I think probably the insect infestation isn't responsible for your plants not producing fruit. The article about insect galls above from the University of Florida Extension Service, plus ones from Iowa State University Extension Service and Brandeis University, all indicate that galls generally don't cause any serious problems for plants except, perhaps, aesthetically. See the photos below showing trees with insect galls and fruit. Perhaps your trees are more heavily infested than the ones in the photographs, but still I don't think that this would keep them from bearing fruit. I think that most likely all the other trees are male trees or, for some unknown reason, the other female trees didn't set fruit. It will be interesting to see if any of the trees without fruit this year will bear fruit next year.

 


Diospyros texana

Diospyros texana

Diospyros texana

Diospyros texana

 




 

 

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