Should we be trying to develop a non-astringent American persimmon?

The thread linked above started out with a question about the Ukrainian persimmon breeding program but it eventually evolved into a discussion of the various metabolic bases for non-astringency.

Along the way, the discussion focused on the D. Virginiana variety “Morris Burton,” which is reported to be tasty and, more to the point, to lose astringency early. I cannot vouch for Morris Burton myself – I have never grown it, though I have ordered scions for grafting next spring (2023). But I am willing to keep an open mind about the possibility that Morris Burton carries a mutation that – one way or other – reduces the astringency of a semi-ripe or ripe fruit.

So I have to wonder: If Mother Nature has handed us a cold-hardy, flavorful, non-astringent (American) persimmon, why are we fooling with breeding programs to create a Kaki x Virginiana hybrid? Shouldn’t we just grab the ball and run with it?

To kick off this discussion, let me ask three questions. I’m asking forum members to tell us what you know based on your experience:

  1. Is Morris Burton reliably non-astringent? If so, at what stage of ripeness?

  2. Is Morris Burton reliably tasty? If so, at what stage of ripeness?

  3. Does Morris Burton produce any male flowers? If not, what about the other three reportedly tasty Americans that I am growing – H63A, Barbra’s Blush, and Dollywood? If not, which DV varieties should be considered as the “male” side of a Morris Burton x DV cross?

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As far as I’m aware, Morris Burton does not sport the occasional male flowers. The only female D. Virginiana that have been reliably documented to put on male flowers sporadically are Early Golden, Killen, Garretson, and Florence. All are decendants of Early Golden. It is likely that some of the Claypool selections with lineage from the varieties listed above will also produce male flowers if observed carefully for long enough. Personally, I find ‘non-astringent’ persimmons unpleasant. Taste chalky like a barely sweet, raw zucchini.

I have never tasted a persimmon before but have read mixed reports. Some do not like the texture of an astringent persimmon and say they would never grow an astringent one and others love an astringent persimmon and claim it is similar to eating sugar jam.

These are Morris Burton persimmons. Jerry and I photographed them one afternoon in his orchard, years ago.


These are C-100, one of the most delicious in my opinion. It’s a Claypool cross of Morris Burton x G2. G2 is an open-pollinated male seedling of Garretson.


So true. I don’t like non-astringent persimmons, and my wife can’t stand the astringent varieties - go figure.

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So other approaches:

  1. Reportedly, some varieties are wholly or partly “male” when young but 100% “female” when fully mature Maybe we can get pollen from a young tree. Of course, we’d have to know in advance that a variety develops this way. [I’m sorry, I don’t remember whether this sex-change has been observed in Kaki or Virginiana or both.]

  2. Reportedly more than half of DV seedlings are male. Maybe we make a Morris Burton x DV cross that seems promising then work with the male seedlings. For example, a male seedling of Morris Burton x Early Golden would be 50% Morris Burton. A male seedling of a back-cross of Morris Burton x [Morris Burton x Early Golden] would be 75% Morris Burton. And so on. So for example, we could use this 75% Morris Burton males in further crosses with well-flavored female varieties such as H63A, Barbra’s Blush, Dollywood.

So basically, the F2 Morris Burton males would play the same role in this breeding program that the F2 Rosseyanka males play in Jerry Lehman’s experiments. In theory, cold hardiness is universal among DV varieties, non-astringency would be introduced by the MB F2 male, and flavor would come from the blend of 37.5% MB, 12.5% Early Golden, and 50% the female DV parent.

In your experience, is Morris Burton and its descendants (e.g., C-100) non-astringent before becoming fully ripe?

@disc4tw – Ryan, In the linked thread you wrote << something like Morris Burton which has known excellent fruit but also a tendency to make male flowers could be tested. >>

Can you reconfirm that MB produces male flowers? Thx.

To be honest, I don’t really know. I’ve always eaten them fully ripe, so wouldn’t have a reference frame as to their putative non-astringency. They taste really good ripe, though. Maybe I’ll try one early this year to find out.

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My flowering male is C-88 which is a Morris Burton x G2. I did some controlled crosses of it with I-94, H-118, and L-89 last year. Hope to grow out the progeny to see if it produces anything interesting. Next year I plan on going nuts with the controlled crosses with other varieties, so will have more seed than I can grow out on my little piece of land. Might have to offer them to other serious growers.


This reference says that Morris Burton produces some male flowers.

@parkwaydrive – Are you connected to NC State? Your pictures and their pictures are the same.

One grower here finds Morris Burton astringent even when fully ripe. Another not. This is discouraging. It undermines any confidence that MB is reliably astringent (nature not nurture).

No, I put those pictures on Flicker in the public domain years ago. Wanted to get the cultivar images out there. A lot of the written descriptions out there are obviously written by authors without firsthand experience.


I don’t believe that statement. A statement that significant needs a citation. Morris Burton was one of James Claypool’s favorite persimmons. He used in a lot of crosses but always as the female. He was keen to notice male sports as he used them in his crosses. As far as I know, the only useable male flowers he ever observed on females were in the Early Golden clan.

OK, thanks for the honest response. I’m a habitual skeptic, so I don’t believe everything I read, especially on the internet.

You should be warned, however, that stating “I don’t believe that statement” could get you crucified here – it’s very unfriendly. :slight_smile:

OK, thanks for the honest response. I’m a habitual skeptic, so I don’t believe everything I read, especially on the internet.

You should be warned, however, that stating “I don’t believe that statement” could get you crucified here – it’s very unfriendly. :slight_smile:

Sorry , not meant be unfriendly. Hard to gauge context in text, especially to a nerdy scientist like me. I don’t take life seriously enough to want to be unfriendly.

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Hi Jrd,
Maybe posing this question to Cliff England could shed some light on a path forward, he has always been pretty candid when I consult him about grafting compatibility, It would be nice if you figure out the possible ways to proceed.

Kent, wa

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