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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

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