There are 3 main species grown for fruit, which are as follows Diospyros kaki - Persimmon - grows to 12m tall x 7m spread - Zone 8 Diospyros lotus - Date Plum - grows to 9m tall x 6m spread - Zone 5 Diospyros virginiana - American Persimmon - grows to 20m tall - Zone 4
In general the fruit can be eaten raw or cooked. When fully ripe the fruit has an exquisitely rich flavour something like apricot and mango, with 25% sugars. The fruit can hang onto the tree very late in the season sometimes December. It is then stored in a cool but frost-free place until very soft and fully ripe. The fruit can range from 1.5cm diameter to about 7.5cm in diameter.
The complexity of astringency of each species and variety is described under each variety description. But there are 4 types classified according to the astringency of the fruit at harvest.
Pollination-Constant Non-Astringent (PCNA), fruit that are not astringent at harvest, may or may not have seeds. Varieties Fuyu, Hana Fuyu, Gos ho or O’Gosho falls into this category.
Pollination-Constant Astringent (PCA), astringent fruit regardless of the presence of seeds. Fruit is edible only after softening (“bletting”). Varieties Diospyros virginiana, Costata, Farmacista, Hachiya and Rojo Brillante fall into this category.
Pollination-Variable Non-Astringent (PVNA), fruit not astringent if pollinated. Varieties Tipo, Cioccolatino and Vaniglia fall into this category.
Pollination-Variable Astringent (PVA), astringent fruit even if pollinated. Varieties Triumph (Sharon fruit) and Hiratanenash fall into this category.
Prefers a good deep loamy soil in sun or light shade but succeeds in most soils. Dislikes very acid or wet and poorly drained soils. Requires a sheltered position. Dormant plants are quite hardy in Britain, but they require warmer summers in order to ripen their fruit and wood. A warm sunny location improves the chance of producing ripe fruit. Fruits are frequently produced outdoors at Kew. The young trees require some winter protection for their first winter or two.
Because persimmons leaf out based on number of hours exposed to warmth rather than on exposure to chilling, they can be slower than most. In some areas, a newly planted persimmon may not break dormancy until late spring in warmer climates and summer in cooler climates.