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Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

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Monday - October 23, 2006

From: Lafayette, LA
Region: Southeast
Topic: Propagation
Title: Identifying gender of persimmon trees
Answered by: Damon Waitt

QUESTION:

How can you tell the difference between a male persimmon tree and a female persimmon tree? Also do you need both to bear the fruit? I live in Louisiana and never heard of this before. Thanks.

ANSWER:

Persimmon trees are either male or female and only the females bear fruit. You can tell male trees from female trees because male flowers are smaller and appear in small clusters, while the larger female flower appears alone.

Inside the female flower you will find the pistil but also sterile stamens, noticeably smaller than stamens in the male flower. The stamens in a persimmon's female flowers are usually sterile but rarely produce pollen. So rarely a tree with female flowers can produce fruit without another tree with male flowers being around. To complicate matters further, a tree's sexual expression can vary from one year to the other and many cultivars of persimmon are parthenocarpic (setting seedless fruit without pollination).
 

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