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I have to admit that the persimmon tree was an impulse purchase. I saw some lovely Diospyros kaki, aka Japanese persimmons, at the garden center and suddenly realized that I’ve always wanted this plant. In other words, a case of plant lust kicked in.

Although we’ve not regretted planting this tree, the pleasure that we take in it comes from unexpected sources. We anticipated eating the fruit but since it’s so astringent it’s completely unappealing to the humans. I understand that drying the fruit, or soaking it in vodka, would get rid of the unpleasant tannins, but after that first bite we are content to leave the fruit to the wasps and bees. They can use the sugars and we can save the vodka for better purposes.

In addition to pure pucker power we also didn’t foresee how much enjoyment this tree would bring in the summer and late fall. Early in the season the shiny leaves are very handsome and the tree doesn’t require much care. After the foliage falls the orange fruit adorns the branches like ornaments. Every time we pull into the driveway in mid to late November we smile. In a season when most of the garden has shut down or disappeared, the orange fruit that delights us is a blessing, astringent though it may be.

If I had room for many other trees I’d plant some of the other persimmons that you can eat without pain even when they’re not quite ripe and their flesh is firm. Since this isn’t the case, however, we take pleasure in the unanticipated beauty that this plant provides.

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