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medlar vs. persimmon in PNW

 
Laura Sweany
Posts: 265
Location: Onalaska, Lewis County, WA
food preservation forest garden tiny house
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I am designing a public orchard/food forest in Seattle, and there is a desire in our group to include some unusual (but still productive!) trees in our orchard system.  We have space for one more, and the choices are down to a medlar or a persimmon.  I am hoping that folks with experience with either (or both) will weigh in on which are more productive in our maritime Pacific Northwest region.  I need an answer by Sunday, May 8.  Thanks in advance for your input!
 
Matt Ferrall
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Location: Western WA,usda zone 6/7,80inches of rain,250feet elevation
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Location is everything with the persimmon.Ive seen large fruiting specimens in seattle with extra heat units and protection from houses and streets.I have yet to see an american persimmon make it past 20yrs here+they are notoriously hard to transplant and need extra fertility and water for the first couple years.Medlars are pretty forgiving and I have seen lots of those.I personally have had graft failiors with those on quince rootstock but raintree sells them on pear rootstock.For the quince,you might want to bury the graft to give the medlar a chance to self root?(read about that a few times)
 
tel jetson
steward
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Location: woodland, washington
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Laura Sweany wrote:
I am designing a public orchard/food forest in Seattle, and there is a desire in our group to include some unusual (but still productive!) trees in our orchard system.  We have space for one more, and the choices are down to a medlar or a persimmon.  I am hoping that folks with experience with either (or both) will weigh in on which are more productive in our maritime Pacific Northwest region.  I need an answer by Sunday, May 8.  Thanks in advance for your input!


for large harvest from a small tree, an Asian persimmon (Diosypros kaki) is hard to beat.  medlars are also productive, but no match for a persimmon.  American persimmon (D. virginiana) trees are bigger, and not quite so productive as the Asian species.

and all three of those are plenty weird, and very tasty.  medlars really have to turn to mush before they're very palatable.  persimmons depend on variety, but some of them also need to be just shy of rotting before they lose their intense astringency.

juice from unripe persimmons is also fermented to make a dye.  doesn't require any mordant, preserves wood, darkens in the sun instead of bleaching, waterproofs fabric...  great stuff.  called kakishibu.

I like medlars and persimmons, but if I had to choose I would go with a persimmon.

I guess you can't wait for fall, but there's a mature and productive medlar in the Washington Park Arboretum, as well as at least one fruiting persimmon in the arboretum's Japanese Garden.

I'll also second Mt.goat's statement: I've had fewer problems with medlars than persimmons, but haven't had much trouble with either.
 
Laura Sweany
Posts: 265
Location: Onalaska, Lewis County, WA
food preservation forest garden tiny house
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tel: is the Asian persimmon as hardy as the other?  Especially in our bioregion?  I must admit, I'm leaning toward persimmon from the tone of this conversation.
 
tel jetson
steward
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not as hardy as American by 20 Fahrenheit or so.  established trees should be good to 0 Fahrenheit, though.  ripening fruit is another story.  put it in a warm microclimate if at all possible.  all that urban heat island business might be useful for you in this case.  probably also a good idea to choose an early ripening variety.

there's also a hybrid between the two species available.  called Nikita's Gift the one place I've seen it for sale.  mine is young and hasn't fruited yet, but it's supposed to be about as productive as D. kaki and hardy to -10 Fahrenheit.  you'll probably pay a few more dollars for one of those, but it might be your best bet.
 
Matt Ferrall
Posts: 555
Location: Western WA,usda zone 6/7,80inches of rain,250feet elevation
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PNW is still a pretty broad area.I live in a colder mt. area and have seen over 20 asians fail (some after 5 years of growth).In fact ,no one in my area (upper skagit)has been able to get them to succeed.But,yes,all over seattle they are fine.The only Persimmon still alive in my collection(over $300 spent)is the hybrid(asian x american)and even it is plagued by black spots on the bark.
 
tel jetson
steward
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Mt.goat wrote:
PNW is still a pretty broad area.


absolutely.  where I'm at is really the top of the Willamette Trough, and we get milder winters and more heat units than most other places west of the Cascades in Washington.  Seattle's got some weirdness.  the Sound and lakes moderate things substantially, all the asphalt and concrete warm things up, and two mountain ranges protect it from extreme weather.
 
                                      
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i would recommend a non-astringent type variety of persimmon. the astringent types you must let sit until they turn to mush almost and then you end up using them for baking almost exclusively, unless you want to eat it like baby food. eating a persimmon like Fuyu straight off the tree like an apple is pretty awesome.
 
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