Native Oklahoma Persimmons 101

Persimmons are beautiful simply served on a dish by themselves. Photo by Rylee Roberts

(Originally published Fall, 2010) While sitting at the breakfast table as a young girl, I could look out the window this time of year and watch the squirrels scamper like mad up and down the trees just across the fence line along our garden.  They were scrambling to see who could harvest and store the highest number of Oklahoma native persimmons, the bright orange to dark amber fruits tempting them to work extra hard. Even by squirrel standards.  Occasionally, I would wander outside, cross the fence and collect a few of the fruits I knew for sure were ripe, but at that age it was a guessing game for me.

Persimmon tree during autumn.

Sometimes I would choose them at a stage too firm and orange (green) and suffer the consequences of a horrible experience – something like all the moisture being sucked out of my mouth, with no way to quench the thirst!  But the ripe persimmons…ah, those were nice.  And still are.

My father brought some to our Thanksgiving dinner on Thursday and luckily not all of them got eaten.  I have them now and I thought I would share a few basic pieces of information in case you are outside and see them in a tree somewhere.  They are worth your harvesting time.

First, you need to make sure and pick them off the tree.  They are rarely edible once they’ve fallen to the ground.  Look for fruit that is still holding its shape well, but the skin has begun to ever-so-slightly wrinkle.  You CAN pick them green and store them in a refrigerated container.  I’ve read they will last quite well, but the humidity needs to be fairly high which might not work for other things in in your fridge.

If you wish to cook with them, there are some very nice recipes found online for persimmon bread, “butter,” kimchi, pudding, cheesecake, ice cream and even fudge.  In other words, a whole buncha possibilities!  I also think, however, they are nice just sitting on a plate looking lovely.  Eating a persimmon “naked” tastes like a mix between a date, a mango, and sweetened cooked butternut squash.  They have a pulp consistency of a very ripe apricot.  I think pureeing the pulp and spreading it on a slice of nutty, med-soft white cheese (perhaps a Gruyere) would be a great snack.  Mmm.

Here is what they look like when pulled open. Notice the seeds are quite large. - Photo by Rylee Roberts
Here is a visual to compare the size of the six seeds versus the remaining pulp once the fruit has been de-seeded. Photo by Rylee Roberts.
This should give you an idea of how much pulp you will get out of one medium sized fruit. The measure shown is a tablespoon, so the result is approximately 1/2 T. Photo by Rylee Roberts.

I featured a photo on our October 24th Silent Sunday post, so the picking season can go on for quite some time.  We are actually quite lucky to have them here as Oklahoma borders the far west edge of where they are generally found in the U.S.  Grocery stores across the country carry a few other varieties, however, and some of them are a beautiful yellow color.

Next time you are on a nature walk during an Oklahoma fall day, be sure to look up into the tree branches.  You may get lucky and bring home something nice for your family and have fun learning about the treasures of our great state while you do.  Enjoy!

Nature's perfect appetizer - Native Oklahoma Persimmons. Photo by Red Dirt Kelly



17 thoughts on “Native Oklahoma Persimmons 101”

  1. Can I start trees from the fallen fruit? If so, how do I do this? I have read somewhere to use the soil near the area you are planning on planting them. Do I plant the whole fruit? Do I start indoors? Wild plants don’t start indoors…are they hearty enough to keep outside and grow in pots until started and then I can plant them on my property? HELP!


    1. Hi, Lyle: I would imagine (if you live in Oklahoma) there are trees not too far from you. You might start asking around…who knows? Someone might know of a wild/native tree VERY near you!

      1. I live in Oklahoma City and this is the first time picking persimmons. I read to only pick the ones that fall naturally to the ground. I did knock a lot from the tree but they too fell on the bare ground. So I picked them up and ate them. Then I read that animals eating them carry dangerious round worms and rabies! And leave their poop under the trees with the eggs. So now I’m worried I could be infected. Should I be worried? I would appreciate a good answer. Thank you 🙂

        1. Hello, Janet:

          I’m sorry, I truly have never heard of anyone having difficulty re: round worms and/or rabies due to eating persimmons. If you decide to continue picking them off the ground (only because you’ve recently shaken the tree), then I suggest washing them as you would any other fruit if you are concerned about animal feces.

          I’ve lived around people who have eaten native/wild persimmons my whole life and have never heard of the problem you present. I’m sorry you feel anxious about this situation. You might call a veterinarian and speak with them about your concerns. However, if you’ve already eaten them, (and if it were me) I wouldn’t be concerned unless I started feeling ill. You could also call your family physicians and express your concerns – they could have a nurse return your call and let you know any precautions you could take if you’re concerned about being infected.

          Thanks, Red Dirt Kelly

        2. You can not catch rabies from eating. It must get into your blood stream via a bite or open wound. However, there are many parasites you can get from fecal matter that wouldn’t be much fun. Best to wash any ground falls before eating.

          1. Hello, Pat:

            Unfortunately, most of the persimmons I pick are on the private property of persons with whom I have a relationship.

            I DO see persimmons on the sides of the road from time to time. If you have friends or family who have land in Oklahoma, especially along a creek, ask them if they have persimmons. MOst people are more than glad to have you pick them, as there are more than any one family can usually handle on a single tree.

            You can also join the Oklahoma Wildcrafting Facebook page. The group may have suggestions for you as well. Good luck! RDK

  3. jeanetta – i agree! i’m so glad some of our Oklahoma poetry has the persimmon as subject matter…take care, RDK

    1. My sister lives in the country near Jones Okla. and I noticed there were a ton of fruit baring trees. I originally thought they were plums but I just goggled and found out they are persimmons! I never knew they grew wild in Oklahoma but I have hit the mother load! She has approx. 30 fruit baring trees on her land and they are just now getting ripe enough to eat! They are sweet and sooo good.

      1. Heather – that’s quite a lot of persimmons! You’ll probably need to invite friends and neighbors to enjoy them too…and I KNOW deer love ’em! 🙂 ~ RDK

    2. Hello. I am 84 years old. Born in Seminole, Ok and started eating persimmons at a very young age. We small boys would climb up into the trees and eat all we could hold. I now live near Duncan, Ok and have persimmon trees on my 1 acre. They grow wild east of here on the highway right of way and in fields providing land owners have not removed them. They will grow like weeds and take over the place if allowed. For my taste they are very good. With a little experience you will find out what a ready to eat persimmon looks like. My trees are over 20 years old and furnish myself and the squirrels a refreshing treat. I do not know the health value for humans. I just know the taste value.

      1. Hello, Harold:

        Thanks for writing – I would imagine there are great health values…if nothing else, calories to keep you alive! Thanks for writing – your land sounds like a wonderful treasure for the deer, the squirrels, and YOU!

Comments are closed.