Rent Shop Volunteer Join

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
3 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

Is Thalia dealbata toxic to dogs?
May 16, 2011 - A pond in a park frequented by dogs contains Thalia dealbata and I have seen numerous dogs eating the roots with relish, which we discourage, of course. They seem to really enjoy it though. Aft...
view the full question and answer

Niagara and Concord grape crop failure
September 01, 2008 - Hi, I have been growing niagara grapes and concord grapes for 3 years now and this year I found myself without any fruits. The plant itself if full of leaves and is healthy. I was wondering why this w...
view the full question and answer

Tea made from timothy grass
June 20, 2008 - My mom and I have been drinking tea made from Timothy grass seed for many years, 40 at least. It is delicious, and refreshing. My question is can you see any harm in drinking tea made from the seeds o...
view the full question and answer

Wild onions in southwest Michigan
June 06, 2007 - During the spring every year there are "Volunteer Onions" that grow in my lawn and garden. I live in Michigan, sw. question---are these onions? what are they--they smell like onions--- can they be e...
view the full question and answer

Are wild sweet peas edible?
August 05, 2010 - Are wild sweet peas edible? Thanks.
view the full question and answer

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