This section is from the book "The Standard Cyclopedia Of Horticulture Vol2", by L. H. Bailey. See also: Western Garden Book: More than 8,000 Plants - The Right Plants for Your Climate - Tips from Western Garden Experts.
(Dios, Jove' s, pyros, grain; alluding to its edible fruit). Ebenaceae. Persimmon. Ebony. Woody plants grown partly for the handsome foliage and partly for their edible fruits; some species are valuable timber trees.
Deciduous or evergreen trees or shrubs, with alternate, rarely opposite, entire leaves, without stipules: flowers dioecious or polygamous in few- or many-flowered, axillary cymes, the pistillate often solitary, yellowish or whitish; calyx and corolla 3-7-, usually 4-lobed; stamens usually 8-16, included; styles 2-6; ovary 4 - 12-celled: fruit a large, juicy berry, 1-10-seeded, bearing usually the enlarged calyx at the base; seed flat, rather large. - About 190 species in the tropics, few in colder climates.
The few cultivated species are ornamental trees, with handsome lustrous foliage, rarely attacked by insects and with decorative and edible fruit. The only species which is tolerably hardy North is D. virginiana, while D. Kaki, much cultivated in Japan for its large edible fruits, is hardy only in the southern states. Most species have valuable hard and close-grained wood, and that of some tropical species is known as ebony. They thrive in almost any soil, but require, in cooler climates, sheltered and sunny positions. Propagated by seeds to be sown after maturity or stratified and sown in spring, and by cuttings of half-ripened wood or by layers; the tropical species by cuttings of mature wood in spring, with bottom heat; the fruit-bearing varieties are usually grafted or budded on seedling stock of D. virginiana. See Persimmon.
Fig. 1272. Diospyros Lotus. (X 2/5) a. Leaves acuminate. B. fruit l/2-l l/2 in. across, not ribbed: branches usually glabrous. virginiana, Linn. Common Persimmon. Fig. 1271. Tree, to 50 ft., rarely to 100 ft., with round-topped head and spreading, often pendulous branches: leaves ovate or elliptic, acuminate, shining above, glabrous at length or pubescent beneath, 3-6 in. long: flowers short-stalked, greenish yellow, staminate in 3's, 1/3in. long with 16 stamens; pistillate solitary, larger, with 4 2-lobed styles, connate at the base: fruit globose or obovate, plum-like, with the enlarged calyx at the base, 1-1 1/2 in. diam., pale orange, often with red cheek, edible, varying in size, color and flavor. June. Conn, to Fla., west to Kans. and Texas. S.S. 6:252, 253. G.F. 8:265. Mn. 4:21. Gn. 57, p. 146. A.G. 11:651. V. 4.20. G.W. 16:230.
L6tus, Linn. Fig. 1272. Round-headed tree, to 40 ft.: leaves elliptic or oblong, acuminate, pubescent, often glabrous above at length, 3-5 in. long: flowers reddish white, staminate in 3's, with 16 stamens, pistillate solitary: fruit yellow at first, black when fully ripe, globular, 1/2-3/4in. diam., edible. June. W. Asia to China. A.G. 12:460. Gn.32,p. 68. S.I.F. 1:79.
bb. fruit 1 1/2-3 in. across, usually ribbed: branches with oppressed brownish pubescence. Kaki, Linn. f. (D. chinensis, Blume. D. Schitse, Bunge. D. Roxburghii, Carr.). Fig. 1273. Tree, to
40 ft., with round head: leaves ovate-elliptic, oblong-ovate or obovate, acuminate, subcoriaceous, glabrous and shining above, more or less pubescent beneath, 3-7 in. long: flowers yellowish white, staminate with 16-24 stamens, pistillate to 3/4in. l 1/2-3; styles divided to the base, pubescent: fruit large, 1 1/2-3in. across, very variable in shape and size, mostly resembling a tomato, orange or reddish. June. Japan, China. R.H. 1870, pp. 412, 413; 1872, pp. 254, 255. B.M. 8127. G.C. III. 41:22. Gn. 27, pp. 168, 169; 49, p. 171. M.D.G. 1909: 409. variety costata, Andre. fruit large, depressed, globular, orange-red, with 4 furrows. R.H. 1870:410, and p. 133. I.H. 18:78. G.C. II. 4:777; III. 9:171; 13:51. Gn. 49, p. 171. variety Mazelii, Mouillef. fruit orange-yellow, with 8 furrows. R.H. 1874:70. Other varieties are figured in R.H. 1872, p. 254; 1878:470; 1887:348; 1888:60. A.G. 12:331-8, 459-462. - A very desirable and beautiful fruit-bearing tree for the southern states, where a number of different varieties introduced from Japan are cultivated, but the hardier varieties from the north of Japan and China, which are likely to be hardy north to New England, seem hitherto not to have been introduced Fig. 1273 is from Georgeson's articles in A. G. 1891. - The plant cult, in Eu. as D. chinensis, which is apparently the same as D. Roxburghii, differs from the Japanese forms of Kaki, which usually have elliptic and glabrescent leaves, in the narrower usually oblong leaves densely pubescent beneath, less so above, and in the greenish yellow subglobose fruit; it is tenderer than the common Kaki. It must not be confused with D. sinensis, Hemsl., an entirely different species from Cent. China, not in cultivation
aa. Leaves obtuse or emarginate.
Scheele (D. mexicana, Scheele. Brayodendron texanum, Small). Small tree, intricately branched, rarely to 40 ft.: leaves cuneate, oblong or obovate, pubescent below, 1-2 in. long: flowers with the leaves, pubescent, on branches of the previous year; calyx and corolla 5-lobed; staminate flowers with 16 stamens, pistillate with 4 pubescent styles connate at the base: fruit black, 3/4-l in. diam. Spring. Texas, New Mex. S.S. 6:254.
Poir. (D. reticulata, Willd.). Tree or shrub: leaves coriaceous, oval or oblong, rounded at both ends, lustrous above, glabrous and reticulate below, 3-6 in. long: flowers clustered, sessile; calyx tubular, 4-lobed at the apex; corolla 4-lobed; stamens 12-13, glabrous: fruit ovoid, sericeous or glabrate, 1/4-1 1/2in long, edible. Mauritius. - Yields the ebony of Mauritius. Cult, in S. Calif.
Fig. 1273. A cultivated fruit of Diospyros Kaki. (Nearly natural size.)
D. armata, Hemsl. Spiny tree, to 20 ft.: leaves persistent, oval-oblong, obtuse, 1-2 in. long: staminate flowers in short panicles, creamy white, fragrant: fruit usually solitary, 3/4in. across. Cent. China. Tender. - D. Ebendster, Retz. The "guayabota" and "zapote negro," from Mex. and W. Indies, has been catalogued in S. Calif. It is a tall tree, with very sweet fruits the size of an orange, green outside and almost black inside: leaves elliptic oroblong, usually obtuse, 3-12 in. long: flowers white, fragrant. - D. Ebenum, Koenig. Tree, to 50 ft.: leaves elliptic-oblong, bluntly acuminate, glabrous: flowers white, staminate, in short racemes. E. Indies, Ceylon. For cult, in hothouses or tropical climates. This species is said to yield the best ebony. - D. Morrisiana, Hance. Evergreen shrub or small tree, glabrous: leaves oval, obtusely acuminate, 2-31/2 in. long: flowers whitish, drooping, on hairy stalks: fruit yellow, subglobose, 1/2-3/4in. across. Hongkong, Formosa. The edible fruit ripens in Dec. - D. utilis, Hemsl. Evergreen large tree: branchlets silky-pubescent: leaves oblong, short-petioled, glabrous above, whitish and silky-pubescent beneath, 5-8 in. long: fruit depressed-globose, pubescent, nearly 2 in. across.
Formosa. The edible fruit is called Mao-shih.