Diospyros virginiana

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Diospyros virginiana L.

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Order Ericales
Family Ebenaceae
Genus Diospyros

2n =

Origin : eastern USA

wild and cultivated

English {{{english}}}
French {{{french}}}


Popular names

  • English: persimmon
  • French: plaqueminier / plaquemine
In spite of their apparent unrelatedness, English and French names have the same origin. Both come from Algonquian languages or dialects (not specifically Algonquin, which is a language in Québec and Ontario).
  • Persimmon. Forms: 17th: putchamin, pessemmin, posimon; 18th: pitchumon, pishamin, phishimon, porsimmon; 18-19th: persimon; 19th: persiman, persimmen; 18th: persimmon. Corruption of the native name in the Powhatan dialect (Algonkin of Virginia). The exact form of the first element is uncertain; the second is the suffix -min, common to many names of grains or small fruits in Algonkin dialects.
    • 1612. Capt. Smith Map Virginia 12 The fruit like medlers; they call Putchamins, they cast vppon hurdles on a mat, and preserue them as Pruines.
    • 1612. W. Strachey Travels Virginia x (Hakl. Soc. 119 They have a plomb which they call pessemmins, like to a medler, in England, but of a deeper tawnie cullour. (Oxford English Dictionary).
  • piakimin (west-algonquin). Modern French piakimina "fruit du plaqueminier" (1682), paquimina (1684), piaguimina (1713), piakimine (1734), piaquemine (1768), plaquemine (from Lar 1874), louis. id. Read. - Derivative: Modern French piakiminier "arbre d'Amérique, nommé par les botanistes Diospyros virginiana L." (1744), piaqueminier (Valm 1767-1791), piacminier, placminier (1758), plakminier (1744), plaqueminier (from 1720, Read). - Handbook of American Indians, 2, 234; Friederici 516; König 169. (Wartburg, Französisches Etymologisches Wörterbuch, Band 20, 1968). The first French settlers probably spoke a dialect such as Poitevin, heard "piachimin" and tended to transcribe as "plakimine" in standard French.


Diospyros virginiana L. (1753)



"North America, found wild from the 42nd parallel to Texas, often attaining the size of a large tree. This plant is the persimmon, piakmine, or pessimmon of America, called by the Louisiana natives ougoufle. Loaves made of the substance of prunes "like unto brickes, also plummes of the making and bigness of nuts and have three or four stones in them" were seen by DeSoto on the Mississippi. It is called mespilorum by LeMoyne in Florida; "mespila unfit to eat until soft and tender" by Hariot on the Roanoke; pessimmens by Strachey on the James River; and medlars on the Hudson by the remonstrants against the policy of Stuyvesant (Pickering, C. Chron. Hist. Pls. 770. 1879). The fruit is plum-like, about an inch in diameter, exceedingly astringent when green, yellow when ripe, and sweet and edible after exposure to frost. Porcher (Porcher F.P. Res. So. Fields, Forests 424. 1869) says the fruit, when matured, is very sweet and pleasant to the taste and yields on distillation, after fermentation, a quantity of spirits. A beer is made of it. Mixed with flour, a pleasant bread may be prepared. Occasional varieties are found with fruit double the size of the ordinary kind. The best persimmons ripen soft and sweet, having a clear, thin, transparent skin without any roughness. Flint (Flint T. West. States I:73. 1828), in his Western States, says when the small, blue persimmon is thoroughly ripened, it is even sweeter than the fig and is a delicious fruit. It is sometimes cultivated in America and is also to be found in some gardens in Europe." (Sturtevant, 1919)