Host an Event Volunteer Join Tickets

Support the plant database you love!

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.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

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

Search Smarty Plants
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
19 ratings

Saturday - December 10, 2016

From: Franklin, NC
Region: Southeast
Topic: Edible Plants
Title: Identification of tart fruit that looks like a pumpkin
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

As a child, in Miami, Florida, in the 1950's, another child challenged me to eat a "fruit" that looked like a pumpkin. It was just a little bigger than those candy pumpkins we see now at Halloween, and it was orange. Unable to refuse a challenge, unfortunately, I took a bite of it, and quickly spit it out! It was extremely tart and nasty tasting. Any idea what that plant might be called? Maybe ignoramus childsixus? Thanks!

ANSWER:

Probably you were given a less-than-ripe Diospyros virginiana (Common persimmon) to eat.  When they are fully ripe these fruits are sweet and delicious; however, if not completely ripened, they are very tart. It is a common prank in the south to give someone an unripe persimmon to eat—an unpleasant experience! Here is a photo of the fruit from the internet.

There are non-native persimmons that are similar to the native common persimmon.  A Wiki-How article tells you how to tell the difference between ones that they call sweet and ones classified as astringent.  It is possible that you were given a non-native persimmon to eat, but probably it was the native one since in the 1950s the non-native ones wouldn't have been as readily available as they are today.

 

From the Image Gallery


Common persimmon
Diospyros virginiana

Common persimmon
Diospyros virginiana

Common persimmon
Diospyros virginiana

More Edible Plants Questions

Could hickory leaves be used as seasoning from Waynesboro VA
September 17, 2011 - I have a hickory tree. If I pull a leaf off and rip it then smell, there is a strong wonderful scent of hickory much like when I rip a mint leaf there is a strong smell of mint. So my question is, can...
view the full question and answer

Culture of Polytaenia nuttallii, Prairie Parsley
January 21, 2011 - Polytaenia nuttallii is listed at the Wildflower Center as a biennial. PLANTS database lists it as a perennial. Please clear this up if you can. If I plant this at home with tomato plants will it...
view the full question and answer

Who ate the Jack-in-the-Pulpit in Ontario?
July 07, 2009 - Something has dug up my clump of Jack-in-the-pulpit at my parents' cottage in the Haliburtons (Ontario, Canada). Leaves, berries and roots are gone. We know we have a black bear who likes our compo...
view the full question and answer

Blueberry and huckleberry plants for Washington state
April 20, 2010 - Could you give me the names of which blueberry plants and huckleberry bushes that grow the best in Walla Walla, Washington and where and how to plant and space and care for them?? Thanks so much.
view the full question and answer

Is balsam gourd (Ibervillea lindheimeri) poisonous or edible?
August 18, 2008 - Is the Balsam Gourd edible or poisonous?
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.