Texas Persimmon

Progress report on my thumbkins.

texas persimmon flower april 2015 1
Soft yellow bell shaped flower

Last fall I planted Texas Persimmon seeds collected from a wild tree. They sprouted and got to be about as tall as my thumb. They now inhabit a corner of my garden. They are so small they are nearly invisible to the naked eye and therefore vulnerable to being squashed to death by the letter carrier’s heavy boot. I did place plant stakes here and there but I kind of wonder if the postal guy sometimes sees said markers as targets! 10 points for a tree … 5 for a perennial …

I can picture what they will look like in ten years. But that vision exists only in my mind. So I broke my stop-going-to-the-nursery-so-often rule and bought a small persimmon tree last fall. So many excuses … so little willpower.

When the weather got slightly cold all the leaves fell. I was expecting this so I didn’t totally panic. I merely worried.

Today the branches are covered in soft new leaves … and flowers! Today would be a good day to die because my heart is overflowing with happiness.

texas persimmon flower april 2015 2
flowers as seen from below

I took a walk to check out the parents of my thumbkins and was happy to see they were all healthy.

When I am on a wildlife hunt I often start by visiting a native plant. I almost always find something. (Though I do need to MacGyver an anti-glare device for taking insect photos!)

Smaragdina militaris
Smaragdina militaris

Smaragdina militaris and Zero Waste

I couldn’t find much info about the adults but I learned that the larvae eat detritus — a polite way of saying they eat their mother’s excrement. As each egg is laid the female beetle covers it with her excrement which will harden into a kind of case or container that will protect the larvae as it develops. The larvae will continue to build up the case by adding its own waste. It sounds gross but it is also a creative way to solve a bunch of problems.

Here’s another angle:

Smaragdina militaris side viewAnd closeup ….

red and black insectSo cute. I like the feathery antennae that I suppose can only be seen if you click on the photo. At first I thought this little guy might be some kind of a carrion beetle but corpse beetles have brightly coloured antennae and well … ought to be seen burrowing through something dead. Thanks to the people at BugGuide for providing the correct identification.

Leaf Mites

I also saw a lot of these bumps:

mite galls on persimmonThe bumps/galls are the tree’s response to an invasion of mites of microscopic proportions. Little cause for gardener alarm.

Here’s a closer view. What a monster!

image courtesy of the James Hutton Institute http://www.scri.ac.uk/image/eriophyidmite
image courtesy of the James Hutton Institute http://www.scri.ac.uk/image/eriophyidmite

Mercy and the Mockingbird

The soft shade cast by the new leaves was a relief to my eyes that are becoming permanently squinty. This has been a spectacular year for meadow flowers but already the sunlight feels a bit mean spirited. Maybe I really am more of a forest creature.

honey bee visiting gentle shade
honey bee and gentle shade

This particular wild persimmon seems to be ‘owned’ by a mockingbird. I always see him nearby. Lately he has been performing nearly nonstop. He must be very old. His song repertoire is like the Library of Congress. My husband and I walk through this area frequently and when we are together I ask him to whistle the Mockingjay tune from the Hunger Games film series. Just cuz.

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30 thoughts on “Texas Persimmon

  1. What a great plant to covet and be smitten over…a lovely flower….and I agree…so much wildlife on my natives.

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  2. As a friend of mine says, life is too short for trees and shrubs in one gallon containers, and that goes many-fold for those raised from seed. Not that you shouldn’t raise them from seed, but you should also get some good size specimens to keep you happy in the here and now.

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  3. Persimmons and mocking birds, it all sounds incredibly romantic and exotic to me. How exciting to have some blossom on your tree but you can’ t die of joy yet, you have to wait until you get fruit.
    The idea of the postman using the plant markers as targets made me laugh. You need to booby trap them with trip wires. And be ready with your camera. Or do you get sued for that sort of thing in America?
    I have never heard of a Smaragdina before, but here we have the dreaded lily beetle which has the same disgusting habits. It makes squashing the young ones without gloves on, particularly revolting.

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    1. I do think the gardeners of the neighbourhood will one day unite and confront in person the menace of our heavy footed letter carrier. I’m not sure why we are so intimidated. Maybe it is his status as a Federal employee. Forget the law … he’d probably turn Homeland Security on us. The other day one of my neighbours put up a sign that reads: do NOT step on the jasmine. Brave gal. And fruit! Perhaps someday. =)

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    1. Thanks. Leaf miners are insects; mites are more like crabs and spiders. This one can only been seen with a microscope. But I think the results are similar: they might uglify some leaves but probably won’t cause much damage.

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  4. So many great photos – but I’m particularly smitten with that pink evening primrose. As much as the bluebonnets do, those delicate pink flowers sing SPRING!

    I am going out tomorrow as soon as I can to check our lone persimmon for flowers. I only noticed the tree after it fruited (for what I believe was the first time – it is in pretty deep shade) last year. I’ve never seen it in bloom. Fingers crossed…

    As happens with Beauty Berry bushes, I think each persimmon gets its own “resident” mockingbird. They seem to relish the fruit when that time comes, making a fairly significant mess of things under “their” tree. And oh yes indeed your sweet husband should be whistling that mockingjay tune. What a treat!

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    1. We went for a ‘hike’ along Drycreek Drive on the weekend and I was surprised at how the wildflower meadows were -completely- different with only a slight change in soil. There were four nerve daisies everywhere but little sign of the evening primrose. Over here the fields are pink pink pink. Pretty amazing.

      I learned something new about the persimmon. In the wild they are edge plants preferring shade when young and then preferring sun when they get to a certain (unspecified) age. A little like all those people moving to Arizona when they retire. The upshot is that they are pretty tough and can handle a wide variety of conditions. I really do think they are the perfect tree for these parts.

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      1. The perfect tree – I completely agree. Thanks for the reminder to look for flowers on mine. I posted about it and linked back here – ought to show up a little later.

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    1. The seedlings (if I can still call them that) are so cute. Someday. Someday. The flowers are tiny and easily overlooked unless you are looking for them. But those kinds of flowers are sometimes my favourites.

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  5. Oh, the Texas Persimmon of one my favorite trees. Often overshadowed by the more showy trees (ahem, I’m talkin’ ’bout you, Mt. Laurel….), the Persimmon is so elegant and rugged, if such a thing can be. (Think: Paul Newman, except in tree form.) The Green Garden at ZBG is inhabited by a grove of Texas Persimmon and I fell in love. That bark, those leaves, the fruit and the wildlife which loves all of the above. A great choice for your place. I look forward to reading more!

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    1. Thanks Tina. I am completely infatuated. The perfect tree. Not too big; not too small. Beautiful bark. Nice leaves. Fruit. Flowers. Tolerates a variety of soils and light conditions. Drought tolerant. I wish I had known about them when I first started planting things here. I would have a nice little grove by now.

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