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(persimmon), a genus of subtropical and tropical deciduous plants of the family Ebenaceae. The trees or shrubs have simple evergreen or deciduous leaves and fleshy two- to ten-seeded berries. The plants are distributed mainly in Southwest Asia. There are about 200 species; three occur in the USSR. The date plum (D. lotus) is a tree reaching 16 m in height. Its entire, elongate leaves are dark green above and shiny. The tiny axillary flowers are dioecious or polygamous. The fruits, which reach 2 cm in diameter, are round, yellow-orange, and edible. In dried form they contain more than 40 percent sugar and 0.5 percent malic acid. A tree may yield as much as 80 kg of fruit. The date plum is a good stock for the Japanese persimmon (D. kaki). In the USSR the tree grows wild and is cultivated in the Caucasus and Middle Asia. The common persimmon (D. virginiana) is a dioecious tree measuring 20–25 m tall. The ovate or oval leaves are 8–14 cm long; they are shiny above and dark green. The flowers are unisexual, small, and colorless. The very tasty spherical or conical fruits are 2–5 cm in diameter and weigh up to 25 g; they are yellow with a red cheek. Their content includes 40 percent sugar, 0.88 percent protein, and 0.5 percent malic acid. The fruits are used in fresh form (after complete ripening), in processed form as jam and alcohol, and in dried form. The yield is up to 300 kg per tree. The wood is used for furniture and musical instruments. The common persimmon can tolerate temperatures as low as –30°C for short periods of time.
The most commonly cultivated species is the Japanese persimmon, a dioecious or monoecious tree 8–12 m tall. The large alternate leaves are oval, dark green, leathery, and pubescent beneath; they turn red before falling. The staminate flowers are small and in tufts; the pistillate and bisexual flowers are solitary and light green. The variously shaped orange-yellow or tomato-red fruits are fleshy and large, reaching 8 cm in diameter. The pulp of ripe fruits is jelly-like, and it is pale yellow, bright yellow, dark red, or brown. The unripe fruits of many varieties have an extremely astringent taste. The Japanese persimmon is native to China and Japan. It is grown on a small scale in the USA, Italy, Spain, Australia, and countries of South America. In the USSR the tree is grown in Western and Eastern Georgia, in Azerbaijan, in Krasnodar Krai (along the Black Sea coast), and in southern regions of the Crimea, the Uzbek SSR, the Tadzhik SSR, and the Turkmen SSR. It tolerates frosts to – 20°C but thrives only in certain soils. The best varieties for fruits used in fresh form are Hachiya, Sydlis (high tannin content, medium-ripening, fruits always light-fleshed), Hyakume (medium-ripening, standard), Zengi (early-ripening, standard), and Tsuru (low tannin content, late-ripening). After complete ripening, fresh fruits contain 25 percent sugar, 1.5 percent protein, and 0.85 percent fat. The vita-min-C content is 40 mg, and iron and other valuable microelements are present. The fruits are a superb dessert and keep under refrigeration for six months or more. The green fruits and leaves have a high tannin content. The fruit yield is as much as 250 kg per tree. The wood is used for furniture and musical instruments. Propagation is by stratified seeds or, more often, by grafting.
REFERENCESPlodovodstvo, 2nd ed. Moscow, 1966.
Zhukovskii, P. M. Kul’turnye rasteniia i ikh sorodichi, 3rd ed. Leningrad, 1971.
A. D. ALEXANDROV