The persimmon is the fruit of the persimmon tree, Diospyros kaki. The tree is deciduous, with broad, stiff leaves. Persimmons are native to China. They spread first to other parts of east Asia, and were introduced to California in the 1800s.
Relatives of the Asian varieties of persimmon include the American persimmon, Diospyros virginiana, native to North America, and the black persimmon or black sapote, Diospyros digyna, a fruit native to Mexico which has green skin and white flesh when unripe and turns black when ripe. There is also the mabolo or velvet apple, Diospyros discolor, which is native to the Philippines. It is bright red when ripe.
The fruit is light yellow-orange to dark red-orange in color. The calyx often remains with the fruit after picking. Persimmons may be spherical, acorn or pumpkin shaped, depending on the variety. They come in astringent and non-astringent varieties: astringent fruits are astringent until they become ripe, when they are custard-soft. Non-astringent varieties are less astringent when unripe, and lose their astringency earlier; they are firm and slightly crunchy when ripe.
Persimmons may be cooked or eaten raw. Non-astringent fruits are preferred for eating raw.
Commercial varieties include: