Dave Mather Persimmon

     In November I was down in Maryland for a wood show. A very nice couple came up to me and explained that there was a mini tornado last summer and they lost a large Persimmon tree. Did I know anything about the wood? I didn't and said I would write back after some research. Here are some of the pearls from that effort.
     The Common Persimmon (Diospyros Virginiana L.) has a creamy white sapwood when newly cut which darkens to a yellowish or grayish brown. Almost anything used commercially is from the sapwood as the heartwood is very small, blackish brown to black and often streaked. On poorer sites the tree is usually economically worthless as it can be mostly heartwood which checks excessively during drying. The Persimmon has a high percentage of tangential shrinkage and the highest percentage (according to my tables) for radial shrinkage.
     It is a very hard (it is the same genus as Ebony) and very tough wood and it has the ability to stay smooth under friction. Some of its uses are shuttles for textile weavings, bobbins, spools, and even golf club heads.
     Persimmon grows from Southern Connecticut to Southern Florida and as far west as Iowa, Kansas, Oklahoma, and East Texas. On average sites in bottomland, mature trees are 12" - 18" in diameter and grow to over 60' tall. Their leaves are "ovate-oblong", 4" - 6" long, 2" - 3" wide: the bark is blackish and broken into small rectangular blocks. The Persimmon fruit is round and about 1.5" in diameter and is orange to reddish purple, It is sweet and edible when ripe.


© 2001 by David Mather. All rights reserved. No parts of this publication may be reproduced in any form or by any means without the written permission of the author.