Friday, November 9, 2012

Growing Persimmons in Hawaii


Persimmon trees (Diospyros kaki) can successfully be grown in Hawaii. They grow well in areas above 500 feet and are raised commercially above 2000 ft.  Occasionally they are found at low elevation.

Common varieties are Hachiya and Fuyu. The Hachiya variety is heart shaped and pointed at the apex. The accumulation of tannins cause the fruit to be astringent which produces a puckering if eaten before it is fully soft and ripe. Persimmons can be picked firm and ripened at room temperature. The astringency will be eliminated during the ripening process, leaving a creamy texture and tangy-sweet flavor. Hachiyas, along with the variety Maru, are often dried.  The Fuyu fruit is flatter and eaten when firm and crisp; it is non-astringent.

Persimmons are one of the few trees that will tolerate a heavy clay soil as long as drainage is not severely impeded. Few insect pests attack persimmons. The oriental and Mediterranean fruit flies occasionally damage fruit.

On a health note: one study conducted in Japan showed that the peel of the persimmon contains phytochemicals known as proanthocyanidins which may protect cells against oxidative damage associated with aging. In another study which compared apples with persimmons, researchers found that persimmons contain significantly higher concentrations of compounds instrumental in fighting atherosclerosis, a leading cause of heart disease, heart attacks and stroke. In traditional Chinese medicine, it is a remedy for hiccups. The persimmon is native to China and was introduced to Japan.