Diospyros kaki

Botanical Name : Diospyros kaki
Family: Ebenaceae
Genus: Diospyros
Species: D. kaki
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Ericales

Common Names :Japanese Persimmon, Kaki Persimmon  or Asian Persimmon

Habitat :Diospyros kaki is native to   E. Asia – China, Japan.Cultivation of the fruit extended first to other parts of East Asia, and was later introduced to California and southern Europe in the 19th century, to Brazil in the 1890s[3], and numerous cultivars have been selected. A variety is Diospyros kaki var. sylvestris Makino.Now in North America, is the most widely cultivated species of the Diospyros genus. Although its first published botanical description was not until 1780, the kaki is also among the oldest plants in cultivation, known for its use in China for more than 2000 years.

Not known in a truly wild situation, it is found in broad leafed woodland but probably as an escape from cultivation.

Description:
Diospyros kaki is a deciduous tree  with broad, stiff leaves. It grows  to 12 m (39ft) by 7 m (23ft).
It is hardy to zone 8 and is frost tender. It is in flower from Jul to August, and the seeds ripen in November. The flowers are dioecious (individual flowers are either male or female, but only one sex is to be found on any one plant so both male and female plants must be grown if seed is required)The plant is not self-fertile.

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The plant prefers light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and requires well-drained soil.The plant prefers acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils..It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade.It requires moist soil.

The persimmon (kaki) is a sweet, slightly tangy fruit with a soft to occasionally fibrous texture. This species, native to China, is deciduous, with broad, stiff leaves. Cultivation of the fruit extended first to other parts of East Asia, and was later introduced to California and southern Europe in the 19th century, to Brazil in the 1890s, and numerous cultivars have been selected. A variety is Diospyros kaki var. sylvestris Makino.

In many cultivars, known as the astringent varieties, the fruit has a high tannin content which makes the immature fruit astringent and bitter. The tannin levels are reduced as the fruit matures. It is not edible in its crisp firm state, but has its best flavor when allowed to rest and soften after harvest. It has a delicious soft jelly-like consistency, and is best eaten with a spoon. The Japanese cultivar ‘Hachiya’ is a widely grown astringent cultivar. Some cultivars, such as Fuyu, do not contain tannins when firm, and can be eaten like an apple, or can be allowed to go to any stage of ripeness, including to the jelly-like stage. These non-astringent varieties are considered to have a less complex flavor.

When ripe, this fruit comprises thick pulpy jelly encased in a waxy thin skinned shell. “Sharon Fruit” (named originally after Sharon plain in Israel) is the trade name for D. kaki fruit whose astringency has been chemically removed.[5] It is also known as the “Korean mango”.

Cultivation :
Prefers a good deep loamy soil in sun or light shade but succeeds in most soils. Dislikes very acid or wet and poorly drained soils. Requires a sheltered position[200]. Dormant plants are quite hardy in Britain, tolerating temperatures down to about -14°c, but they require warmer summers than are normally experienced in Britain in order to ripen their fruit and wood. The young growth in spring, even on mature plants, is frost-tender and so it is best to grow the plants in a position sheltered from the early morning sun. A warm sunny wall improves the chance of producing ripe fruit and trees fruit freely when grown under glass. Fruits are frequently produced outdoors at Kew. A tree seen in a open position with afternoon shade at Kew in November 1993 (after a cool summer) had about 200 almost ripe fruits around 8cm in diameter. The same tree, after a fairly warm summer in 1996, had a large quantity of fruit just about ready for harvesting in the middle of December. Trees produce a long taproot and should be planted out into their permanent positions as soon as possible. The young trees require some winter protection for their first winter or two. The persimmon is widely cultivated for its edible fruit in warm temperate areas of the world, especially in Japan and China, there are many named varieties. Some cultivars, such as ‘Fuyu’, lack the usual astringency and can be eaten whilst still firm, though they develop a richer flavour if allowed to become soft. These non-astringent forms require a warmer climate and do not ripen in cooler areas. The astringent cultivars are somewhat hardier and ripen well in cooler climates than the non-astringent forms. The fruit colours better and is sweeter in warmer areas but in hot conditions has a poor texture and deep black spots develop. If allowed to become very ripe (almost to the point of going rotten), they develop a better flavour than non-astringent forms. Dioecious, but the female tree can produce seedless fruits in the absence of a pollinator. However, unfertilized fruit tends to be smaller and more astringent. This astringency is due to the high content of tannin but once the fruit is fully ripe it loses this astringency and becomes sweet. If fertilized fruit is required, then growing one male for every 8 – 10 females is usually adequate.

Propagation:
Seed – best sown in a cold frame as soon as it is ripe. Stored seed requires a period of cold-stratification and should be sown as early in the year as possible[78]. It usually germinates in 1 – 6 months at 15°c. Pot up the young seedlings as soon as they are large enough to handle into fairly deep pots and plant them out into their permanent positions in early summer. Give them some protection from winter cold for their first year or two outdoors. Cuttings of half-ripe wood, July/August in a frame. Layering in spring

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Edible Uses:
Edible Parts: Fruit.
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Edible Uses: Coffee; Condiment; Sweetener.

Fruit – raw or cooked. The fruit has an exquisitely rich flavour when it is very soft and fully ripe (almost at the point of going bad), but the fruit of many cultivars is very harsh and astringent before then[K]. In Britain, the fruit needs to be harvested whilst it is still very hard. This is done very late in the season (in December or even January if possible), it is then stored in a cool but frost-free place until very soft and fully ripe[K]. The fruit can also be used in pies, cakes, bread, desserts etc. It contains 25% sugars. A fuller nutritional analysis is available. The fruit can also be dried for later use. The fruit is about 7.5cm in diameter. The peel of the fruit can be powdered and used as a sweetener. The leaves are used to improve the flavour of pickled radishes. The roasted seeds are a coffee substitute.

Constituents:
Figures in grams (g) or miligrams (mg) per 100g of food.

*Fruit (Dry weight)  :350 Calories per 100g
*Water: 0%
*Protein: 3.6g; Fat: 1.5g; Carbohydrate: 91g; Fibre: 7.7g; Ash: 4g;
*Minerals – Calcium: 80mg; Phosphorus: 100mg; Iron: 8mg; Magnesium: 0mg; Sodium: 20mg; Potassium: 950mg; Zinc: 0mg;
*Vitamins – A: 5600mg; Thiamine (B1): 0.2mg; Riboflavin (B2): 0.15mg; Niacin: 0.9mg; B6: 0mg; C: 75mg;

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Medicinal Uses:
Anthelmintic;  Antitussive;  Antivinous;  Appetizer;  Astringent;  Demulcent;  Expectorant;  Febrifuge;  Hypotensive;  Laxative;  Sialagogue;
Stomachic;  Styptic.

Appetizer, sialagogue. The stem bark is astringent and styptic. The fruit is said to have different properties depending on its stage of ripeness, though it is generally antitussive, astringent, laxative, nutritive and stomachic. The fresh fully ripe fruit is used raw in the treatment of constipation and haemorrhoids and when cooked is used to treat diarrhoea. The dried ripe fruit is used in the treatment of bronchial complaints, whilst when ground into a powder it is used to treat dry coughs. Juice from the unripe fruit is used in the treatment of hypertension. The fruits, picked green and ripened in containers with the leaves, become very sweet and are considered to be antifebrile, antivinous and demulcent. The fruits are also peeled and then exposed to sunlight by day and dew by night. They become encrusted with a white powder and are then considered to be anthelmintic, antihaemorrhagic, antivinous, expectorant, febrifuge and restorative. The peduncle is used to treat coughs and hiccups. The calyx is used to treat hiccups.

Other Uses:
Cosmetic;  Wood.

The pulp of unripe fruits is used in cosmetics to make face-packs because of its firming qualities. Wood – hard and durable with a beautiful grain. Used for making fine furniture

Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.

Resources:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diospyros_kaki
http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Diospyros+kaki

http://plantarium.wordpress.com/2008/10/21/the-kaki-tree-diospyros-kaki/

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