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Persimmon




=Habitat and Range.=--Rhode Island,--occasional but doubtfully native;

Connecticut,--at Lighthouse Point, New Haven, near the East Haven

boundary line, there is a grove consisting of about one hundred

twenty-five small trees not more than a hundred feet from the water's

edge, in sandy soil just above the beach grass, exposed to the

buffeting of fierce winds and the incursions of salt water, which comes

up around them during the heavy winter storms. These trees are not in

thriving condition; several are dead or dying, and no new plants are

springing up to take their places. A cross-section of the trunk of a

dead tree, as large as any of those living, shows about fifty annual

rings. There is no reason to suppose that the survivors are older. This

station is said to have been known as early as 1846, at which date the

ground where they stand was grassy and fertile. These trees, if standing

at that time, must assuredly have been in their infancy. The

encroachment of the sea and subsequent change of conditions account well

enough for the present decrepitude, but their general similarity in size

and apparent age point rather to introduction than native growth.



South to Florida, Alabama, and Louisiana; west to Iowa, Kansas, and

Texas.



=Habit.=--One of the Rhode Island trees measured 3 feet 11 inches girth

at the base, and gradually tapered to a height of more than 40 feet (L.

W. Russell). The trees at New Haven are 15-20 feet in height, with a

trunk diameter of 6-10 inches, trunk and limbs much twisted by the

winds. Their branches, beginning to put out at a height of 6-8 feet, lie

in almost horizontal planes, forming a roundish, open head.



=Bark.=--Trunk in old trees dark, rough, deeply furrowed, separating

into small, firm sections; large limbs dark reddish-brown; season's

shoots green, turning to brown.



=Winter Buds and Leaves.=--Buds oblong, conical, short. Leaves simple,

alternate, 3-6 inches long, about half as wide, dark green and mostly

glossy above, somewhat lighter and minutely downy (at least when young)

beneath, ovate to oval, entire; apex acute to acuminate; base acute,

rounded or truncate; leafstalk short; stipules none.



=Inflorescence.=--June. Sterile and fertile flowers on separate or on

the same trees; not conspicuous, axillary; sterile often in clusters,

fertile solitary; calyx 4-6-parted; corolla 4-6-parted; about 1/2 inch

long, pale yellow, thickish, urn-shaped, constricted at the mouth and

somewhat smaller in the sterile flowers; stamens 16 in the sterile

flowers, in fertile flowers 8 or less, imperfect; styles 4, ovary

8-celled.



=Fruit.=--A berry, ripe in late fall, roundish, about an inch in

diameter, larger farther south, with thick, spreading, persistent calyx,

yellow to yellowish-brown, very astringent when immature, edible and

agreeable to the taste after exposure to the frost; several-seeded.



=Horticultural Value.=--Hardy along the south shore of New England;

prefers well-drained soil in open situations; free from disfiguring

enemies; occasionally cultivated in nurseries but difficult to

transplant. Propagated from seed.






1. Winter buds.

2. Branch with sterile flowers.

3. Vertical section of sterile flower.

4. Branch with fertile flowers.

5. Section of fertile flower.

6. Fruiting branch.






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