Jerry Lehman on Non-astringent American Persimmons

@alan asked that I bump this out to its own topic. So here’s what Jerry wrote me about some non-astringent American persimmons he has. I’d imagine Cliff England has these trees as well. I forwarded some cuttings to one person on this forum, but I’m not sure where else to get them. My plan is to use these in some of the hybrid American/kaki persimmon breeding I’m doing.

Here’s what Jerry said:

I made a trip over to the Claypool orchard to collect additional
varieties for you. So here is some information.

The one variety that’s involved in all of the 4 that of been identified
as having non-astringent characteristics is Morris Burton. There was a
doctor Sekar at UC Davis who was an expert in identifying kaki varieties
using electrophoresis. He wrote papers on the subject. In 1998 I had Dr.
Sakar do some work for me with the object to identify virginiana/kaki
hybrid’s and possible hybrids. As a basis in 1998 I did send him
actively growing buds of Morris Burton and other D. virginiana in order
that he could establish typical enzyme patterns for virginiana. In his
report back to me he stated that Morris Burton appears to share an
allele with kaki. I found that interesting and more interesting is that
Morris Burton is involved in all of the 4 varieties that were observed
to produce what Martha Davis and I call non-astringent fruit. That is
some of the fruits could be picked off the tree while still firm with no
astringency. Those 4 varieties were L-92, L-93, L-104 and L-104A. Morris
Burton is involved in all 4 of these. L-92 and L-93 are Szukis X F-100.
L-104 and L-104A are F-7 X Killen (using female pollen). Female pollen
is my way of identifying pollen from pistillate trees. Early Golden,
Garretson, Killen and Szukis will all occasionally put on male flowers
and in which case all the pollen grains contain only X chromosomes, none
contain O chromosomes which pollen from normal males contain 50% X and
50% O. All of the progeny using this female pollen are pistillate, none
staminate. Here are the varieties involved:

Morris Burton_Open pollinated virginiana discovered near Mitchell Indiana.
George_An open pollinated seedling of Garretson and is a grandson of
Early Golden.
F-7_Morris Burton X George
F-100_Morris Burton X George
L-92 and L-93_Szukis X F-100
L-104 and L-104A_F-7 X Killen.

If you’re going to do some breeding for non-astringent varieties I
believe you should include all of the Szukis X F-100 varieties that
Claypool made. He made only 4 each F-7 X Killen. Last week Doug Fell and
I drove over to the Claypool orchard which still exists and cut all the
scion wood that I could of those specimens and am ready to send them to


Do you know how cold hardy is Morris Burton?

It originated in Mitchell, Indiana, I believe, so pretty cold hardy. I think @JesseS might be growing it in Maine as well.

This is the Pamona article where I first found mention of any non-astringent American persimmons.

Non-Astringent_American_Persimmon.pdf (169.9 KB)


So no one is propagating any of these for sale?

I’ve had Morris Burton for about 6 years. A very fast growing tree, but super stingy with its fruit production. I’ve had yates for a year longer. It’s much slower growing, but always produces a good crop, and started at a young age.


Not that I know of. Cliff England of England’s Orchard and Nursery does custom grafting (and sells scion wood) and likely has this material, so he might be an option. I grafted mine to established branches on mature trees, so hopefully I’ll have a report at the end of this growing season.

Maybe there just wasn’t a lot of interest in the trees – could be the fruit isn’t high quality, could be people prefer Kaki regardless, could be that people often plant these to attract wildlife, could be that the trees get so tall that many people just wait for fruit to drop and so don’t mind that these particular ones loose astringency earlier. I’m not sure. The Claypool orchard released several varieties to One Green World that became named cultivars. So I’m not sure why these weren’t part of that release.


Thanks for sharing this info! Do any of your hybrid seedlings have this parentage?

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Not yet. I’m just getting fruit off of those grafts this year. I’ll probably work with them a bit going forward though.

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Very cool! Were you daring enough to try them at the hard ripe stage?

Yep. Not fun. I picked a few more just before yesterday’s frost and will try them at different stages of ripeness. We’ll see how it goes…

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We appreciate your sacrifices in the name of science.


I’ve kind of gotten used to the puckeryness at this point. It’s like a mini stoic challenge to see how much astringency I can stand.


Here’s one of those that I got to fruit. It’s definitely got astringency when it’s hard. But I would say it loses its astringency more quickly and more completely than some other American persimmons do.


About Morris Burton, the late nurseryman John Brittain in KY (Nolin Nursery former owner and quite the American persimmon expert) told me that at first he thought Morris Burton was not worth growing, but in time became his favorite persimmon of all. He said the flavor is really fantastic, although the fruit is on the small side. I have it planted and can provide scionwood eventually, though not for a few years from now.