Contact Us Host an Event 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
12 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

Spots on non-native naval orange trees from Stockton CA
October 20, 2012 - I have two mature Navel Orange trees. One tree has developed spotty chlorophyl depleted areas that were not on the oranges when they were smaller. In addition, the oranges on both trees are smaller ,...
view the full question and answer

Edible Plants for North Georgia
January 10, 2010 - We are planning a forest food garden in the hollers of the N GA Mountains. Which edible fruit, nut, berry, herb and creepers would be best for this reddish, clay-like soil? The food garden is in...
view the full question and answer

Identifying a plant similar to sarsaparilla
September 04, 2011 - I am trying to identify a plant that looks very similar to sasparilla, but has a ring of blue berries at the end of a long stalk, and the plant itself is spreading, not an isolated herb like sasparill...
view the full question and answer

Red berries growing along county road in Caldwell County, Texas
September 06, 2014 - Hello, first I would like to thank you for your time. I thank it's great that you guys and girls answer questions (I'm sure y'all are busy). That being said I will get to the question. On the sides...
view the full question and answer

Blossom end rot on non-native tomatoes from Newport RI
April 25, 2014 - Can epsom salt or eggshells end blossom end rot on tomatoes?
view the full question and answer

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