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The persimmon (sometimes spelled persimon) is the edible fruit of a number of species of trees in the genus Diospyros. The most widely cultivated of these is the Oriental or Japanese persimmon, Diospyros kaki. Diospyros is in the family Ebenaceae, and a number of non-persimmon species of the genus are grown for ebony timber.
The tree Diospyros kaki is the most widely cultivated species of persimmon. Typically the tree reaches 4.5 to 18 metres (15 to 59 ft) in height and is round-topped. It stands erect, but sometimes can be crooked or have a willowy appearance.
The leaves alternate, are oblong with brown-hairy petioles that are 2 centimetres (0.8 in) in length. They are leathery and glossy on the upper surface, brown and silky underneath. The leaves are deciduous and bluish-green in color. In the fall, they turn to yellow, orange, or red.
Persimmon trees are typically dioecious, meaning male and female flowers are produced on separate trees. Some trees have both male and female flowers and in rare cases also bear the 'perfect' flower. Male flowers are pink and appear in groups of 3. They have a 4-parted calyx, a corolla, and 24 stamens in 2 rows. Female flowers are creamy-white and appear solitary. They have a large calyx, a 4-parted, yellow corolla, 8 undeveloped stamens, and a rounded ovary bearing the style and stigma. 'Perfect' flowers are a cross between the two and contain both male and female reproductive organs.
Persimmon fruit matures late in the fall and can stay on the tree until winter. In color, the ripe fruit of the cultivated strains range from glossy light yellow-orange to dark red-orange depending on the species and variety. They similarly vary in size from 1.5 to 9 cm (0.59 to 3.54 in) in diameter, and in shape the varieties may be spherical, acorn-, or pumpkin-shaped. The flesh is astringent until fully ripe and is yellow, orange, or dark-brown in color. The calyx generally remains attached to the fruit after harvesting, but becomes easy to remove once the fruit is ripe. The ripe fruit has a high glucose content and is sweet in taste. Like the tomato, persimmons are not typically considered to be berries, but in terms of botanical morphology, the fruit is in fact a berry.
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