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.
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.
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.