Persimmon ploidy impact on height

I’m editing Wikipedia to add a section about the tetraploid / 60 chromosome and hexaploid / 90 chromosome races of American Persimmons, Diospyros virginiana. I remember hearing or reading something about how the hexaploid trees tend to be similar in stature to Asian persimmons, reaching a maximum height of 30’ or so but usually 15-20’, while the tetraploid trees tend to grow taller, 40’ or more. Is this true, and if so, is there any cite-able source for it? “Ploidy Level in American Persimmon” by Pomper et al. and “Popyploidy in Diospyros Virginiana” by Baldwin and Culp are great sources for other info about the two races and their distribution but don’t mention anything about height differences.

Edit: I just realized I read it in an article by Cliff England in the latest NAFEX POMONA magazine: “The southern 60 chromosome persimmons can grow to a massive size reaching from 80 to 100 feet in
height and are used as timber trees, while the northern 90 chromosome persimmons mature into much
smaller trees. These are an ideal orchard tree size, never growing much taller than 20 to 25 feet with a
spread of 15 to 20 feet.” I’ll reach out to him and see if he has a source on that.

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I thought the 90s were bigger .?
Not sure.
I remember Jerry saying the 60s as a rootstock would give you a smaller tree.
And the Illinois state champion is a good size tree !
Assuming it’s a 90 ?

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I know, I had noticed the Illinois state champion thing. It’s obviously possible that it’s a 60-chromosome, but it seems much more likely to be a 90. I live in Georgia, where the 60s are typical, and most of the trees I’ve noticed are at least 40-50’ tall, so that would seem to agree with Cliff’s statement. Per the rootstock, the dwarfing effect of grafting a 90 onto a 60 could be explained by partial incompatibility rather than the natural size of the tree, e.g. how one pear rootstock has different dwarfing effects on different species & cultivars.

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IDK… but I suspect that siting/setting is likely more influential than ploidy level.
I have native persimmons here (probably 60 C) that are growing in mature woods… probably were seedlings at the edge of crop fields, bordered by hardwood forest, that were planted in pines around 1960(or earlier)… these trees are easily 50 ft tall(maybe taller)… 25-30 ft (or more) to first limbs. But… open-grown persimmons - whether 60C or 90C, tend to be shorter, spreading, ‘orchard’-type trees; most well under 20 ft, regardless of age.
Growing in a high-stem-density setting requires trees to grow in an upright, ‘timber-type’ habit (if they’re capable of such), in order to compete with surrounding trees for limited available sunlight.
I have 20-yr old 90C persimmon seedlings, still stuck in nursery rows that were planted at 4-inch spacings, that are approaching 20 ft in height… very much an upright timber-type tree with no lateral branching to speak of… but they’re REALLY crowded.
I even have a couple of grafted trees in those rows, and they’ve been forced into that upright growth habit… loss of strong apical dominance is a known feature of ‘old budline’ scionwood in many species… with most of those grafted trees tending more toward a habit dominated by lateral branching and spreading growth than the more upright growth habit associated with seedlings of their species.

If you look at the chart in Kirk Pomper’s article on ploidy levels… SFES, which is my own local selection - is a tetraploid 60C selection - the ortet is an open grown tree, in a fenceline bordering a crop field, alongside KY Hwy 91… it has a spreading orchard-type habit and is less than 20 ft tall; I have no idea how old the tree is, but certainly no less than 30-40 yrs, as it was a mature, fruiting tree when I first noticed it…not significantly taller today than it was 20 years ago.
When I first selected SFES, I thought it might be a polygamodioecious male… but no, it’s a female, as far as we can tell. Produces about 80% small seedless fruits, and 20% larger fruits, usually with a single seed… but even those larger fruits are small in comparison to Yates, Prok, etc.

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Jerry’s remark makes sense to me. Though, with one caveat - dwarf or smaller size are more likely to be seen in 60s than 90s. In fruit trees, dwarfism is usually a recessive trait controlled by multiple transcription or regulator factors. So in a tetraploid vs diploid, I would image this would be more uncommon, because you basically have at least one backup chromosome interfering. For example, say you need dw dw to express dwarfism, but with a tetraploid it’s like, dw | dw | D | D or dw | dw | dw | D. You just scale this up to whatever higher polyploid organism you’re talking about.

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@Hillbillyhort I would love it if someone would test that Illinois tree’s ploidy. Looking at the sites tested in the KSU paper, two of them are at about the same latitude as that tree, and the eastward of those two had 100% tetraploid, while the westward had 30% tetraploid. If you extrapolate going westward, you might expect there to be very few tetaploids in that location in Illinois, but that’s obviously a stretch to do, and it’s only ~230 miles away from Bullitt County KY.

The main problem is that as far as I know, the only place with a halfway decent sample size is Kentucky by way of the Pomper paper. The Baldwin and Culp paper tested only 25 trees in the whole US, across 17 states, with most states obviously only having one sample. What we know about the ranges of the two races is mostly based on this paper, and Illinois was not even tested, so it’s certainly a possibility that the big Madison County tree is tetraploid. Mostly, though, there’s just not much info on both fronts (size and distribution).

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Northern males can develop some height after time. Much more than 25 feet but i don’t have as much experience in the middle of non-persimmon territory. Just what i have seen.

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I just called Cliff England and asked him a bit about this question. He said that he mostly takes this from his experience of the trees involved in the KSU study. He also said that he has a fairly accurate way to distinguish between the two races based on leaf shape and bud size, and based on this and his observations of the many persimmon trees on his farms, the height rule seems to hold pretty well.

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So just to clarify, what is the height rule ?

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@Hillbillyhort Tetraploid / 60 chromosome persimmons tend to be much taller than hexaploid / 90 chromosome persimmons. The latter tend to be no more than 20-25’ tall.

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Hmmm… well according to maps, etc. showing ranges, I should be in a 60 chromosome area here in Arlington, VA and the wild persimmons I’ve come across have certainly ranged up to 50 feet tall. They are also definitely more narrow and vertical in growth habit, but part of that is that the ones I’ve seen are usually in amongst other trees so they are growing up, not out. I’d be curious to hear reports of those in the 90 chromosome areas to see if they see trees that are uniformly shorter.

Since my interest is primarily in using them as rootstocks and my 7a zone should be okay for either, it would be great to know if using one or the other as rootstock would have impact on the size and form of the grafted trees.

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Those range maps , while a good effort, should have been points on a map. Not shading in whole states . The sample size of the studies was small. More work needs to be done

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I’m surrounded by what should be predominantly 60C natives… but have been growing 90C fruiting selections for over 25 years… have open-grown 60 & 90 trees next to one another in the orchard (presumably all on 90C seedling understock, but I can’t attest to chromosome numbers on them… I don’t see any noticeable difference in height between the two.
My impression is similar to zendog’s… tall, vertical persimmons are growing in a ‘forest’ setting… requiring that they adopt a ‘timber’-type growth habit. Open-grown trees of both races tend toward a spreading, ‘orchard’ tree habit. So… is the ‘height’ thing a function of genetics, or siting?

Correction for the Pomper article… I know he was using info he got from Cliff England, but the 'Brace #1" selection(a 90C hexaploid) attributed to me came from Don Compton at Marengo IN… not sure where Don selected that one, but it’s not a western KY-origin persimmon.

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@Hillbillyhort I completely agree with you on that one. Actually, the original Baldwin and Culp paper did have points on a map; it was the Pomper et al. paper that made the shading figure based on that one and its own work.

Figure
Definitely could have chosen a clearer way to show the difference though…

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I live in 7b, central Georgia, where persimmons are very common. Presumably edit the 60* chromosome ones thanks @kiwinut Until this thread I had no idea that American persimmons were sometimes small trees. Every one I’ve ever seen eventually turns into a tall tree. A caveat is that I’ve never seen one grown in an orchard setting.

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Based on the map above, I would assume you have 60 chromosome trees in central Georgia. The one point showing 90 chromosomes on the Georgia coast looks more like an outlier.

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That’s my question, too. I live in what is presumably (though by no means certainly) a tetraploid area (Rockcastle County, Ky) and persimmons are abundant. Lots of free, locally adapted rootstock—but is it the best rootstock? I’ve wondered about compatibility issues—though I’ve heard of folks grafting onto probable 60 chromosome stock with no issues. And of course D. lotus (which is a 30 c diploid) is a not-uncommon persimmon rootstock.

Persimmons here also tend toward very tall and slender growth. But as @zendog and @Lucky_P note, this may have as much to do with environment as genetics, as almost all I’ve seen in the immediate area are in a forest setting (or in old, overgrown fence rows) and are stretching to reach the light.

An interesting side-note: this article from a 2007 issue of the newsletter of the Kentucky Native Plant Society states that “[i]t is thought that there may also be a 30 chromosome [D. virginiana] race in southern Florida.” Not sure what they base this on; further interweb crawling yielded no information.

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@JeremiahT Very interesting! I assume you looked at all of the sources at the bottom of that article that you could find online?

I scanned a couple of those that I could readily find, but no, I did not search and peruse with anything like thoroughness.

Here is a scene of somewhat open grown persimmon in Nebraska. Bush in front. Female persimmon right behind that, and male persimmon towering behind. The female puts more energy into it’s fruit and doesn’t grow so much. The male does its male thing, and gets big. Not a southern giant by any means, but even in a somewhat open park setting, a northern male persimmon can still get large. The tallest males in Nebraska are maybe 50’ but I assume there are taller northern male persimmon elsewhere (maybe even in Nebraska)…but I have no experience with that.

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