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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Saturday - August 04, 2012

From: Gonzales, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Plant Identification, Edible Plants, Trees
Title: Plant identification
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

We found a bush on our ranch in southern Gonzales County. It has oval shaped leaves about an inch long. There are no thorns on the branches. Fruit is round and smooth, the size of a small cherry tomato and has the same star shaped cape on top where it is attatched to the branch. Fruit ripens in July to a deep purple and has about 5 fairly large seeds inside. Can you tell us what this is and if it is edible.

ANSWER:

This sounds like Diospyros texana (Texas persimmon).  The plant is dioecious with male flowers on one plant and female flowers on a separate plant.  So, you will see some trees (the males) without fruits.  According to Delena Tull in Edible and Useful Plants of Texas and the Southwest:

"When fully ripe, the sweet rich fruit has a flavor that resembles that of a prune.  The astringency of the unripe fruit makes your mouth pucker and leaves a horrid taste, so use only the soft juicy fruit."

Deer, possums and raccoons are all very fond of the fruit.  Here is more information from TAMU Aggie Horticulture and photos from the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Texas.

 

 

From the Image Gallery


Texas persimmon
Diospyros texana

Texas persimmon
Diospyros texana

Texas persimmon
Diospyros texana

Texas persimmon
Diospyros texana

Texas persimmon
Diospyros texana

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