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  • Subject: [NAFEX] Persimmon flower question.
  • Date: Sun, 29 Feb 2004 11:45:31 EST

Q: American Persimmon (Diospyros virginiàna) has imperfect flowers, some staminate, some pistillate.  What my source doesn't tell me is whether the male and female flowers are on the same plant or are there male plants and female plants.  Would someone help me out on this please?
Jim Fruth

Hello Jim,

Normally D. virginiana trees are either pistillate (female) or staminate (male). Rarely will a tree have flowers of both sexual _expression_. Szukis is one such that does and it is self pollinating. Szukis also has another oddity in that when grafted it can switch from bisexual to either pistillate or staminate and then when grafted again switch back to bisexual. It simply doesn't know which sex it wants to be!

Some males will have perfect flowers and bear fruit. These males usually carry flowers in varying degrees of progression from pure male to perfect, and the fully progressed to perfect are the ones that can bear fruit. Claypool's F-100 is the best example of such a tree. The seeds from this male tree will germinate and grow into trees.

Some female trees will put on male flowers. I've not observed the progression like some males do, they are either purely pistillate or staminate. Early Golden, Killen, Garretson (the Early Golden family) all generally will put on a few stamina flowers and are self pollinating. This normally doesn't occur until the tree is fully mature.

Now for another piece of information you didn't ask about. The sexual _expression_ of persimmon is determined by two chromosomes labeled, X & O. Similar to the X & Y chromosomes in humans. Pistillate trees have two X chromosomes while the males have an X and O. Pollen from male trees have either an X or O and all eggs have X only because females have only x chromosomes to pass on. Likewise when a female tree puts on male flowers all the male sperm cells have X only. The result is all progeny of pollen from female trees will be XX or female.

Now before someone thinks, wow this is how I'll sell seedlings and guarantee they will bear fruit, inbreeding depression sets in and generally they are runts. Jim Claypool, the worlds greatest breeder of American persimmon thought he would breed some super persimmon by crossing Early Golden and Killen male flowers or Garretson with Garretson male flowers. All progeny were female and runts, with one or two exceptions.  

Jerry Lehman 


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