Picture of single persimmon on a branch - backlit

Foraging and Wildcrafting Persimmons Diospyros virginiana L. (common, or American persimmon)


Picture of branch with persimmons
Diospyros virginiana L. (common persimmon)History, Cultivation, Celebration and Culture, Natural History, BotanyHealth & Nutrition, Culinary Use (recipes), Commercial, Entertainment, News, Links, SourcesHomeContact us!

"When the autumn woods are in their glory, the persimmon tree is covered with a glory of its own, every twig being loaded with little flattened globes, salmon pink in color and covered with a bloom that in the shadows is deep blue."  - Margaret Warner Morley

Morley, Margaret Warner.  1913. The Carolina Mountains.  The Riverside Press, Cambridge, MA.  p76. 


Common persimmons are well known to those who forage wild or native plants for food.  They're also well known by enterprising wildcrafters who might make a little extra money by harvesting from wild trees and selling persimmons, persimmon pulp, etc.  Many of you may not be able to grow persimmons.  In that case you may wish to purchase persimmons or forage for your own.  The notes below are for those who would seek persimmons from property they do not own.  Whether you're a casual forager or a seasoned wildcrafter there are a few things you should consider.

Rule #1: ALWAYS ask for landowner permission before foraging or wildcrafting persimmons.  I have rarely met a landowner that would not give permission to harvest from wild trees.  Most orchardists might have a different answer for you, but you could hardly blame them.  Ask anyway, they may feel they have more than enough!

It takes a little effort, but wild persimmon trees can be found fairly easily.  You may have to make repeat trips to determine whether the trees are male or female (or in some cases, mosaics).  Once you have secured the necessary landowner permissions, and have mapped out your trees, it is then simply a matter of waiting.  Those who wish to harvest leaves for tea may want to do this earlier in the year as persimmons are quick to get spotted leaves and even drop leaves very early in the fall.  If you forage for persimmon leaves, you want them at their peak...usually mid-summer.  The good news is that one may often find other wild foods while making visits to the persimmon trees.  It is important that when you ask for landowner permission, that you discuss the options of foraging or wildcrafting for other wild foods.  A landowner may not mind you harvesting persimmons, but they may not want you touching their mushrooms, medicinal plants, or hickory nuts.  The quickest way to lose your permission to harvest is to anger a landowner by removing things from the property which were not part of an original discussion.  Once someone has angered a landowner, there is a good possibility that no one will ever gain permission to access his or her land for any reason.  No one can blame a landowner who has had to deal with unscrupulous people on their land.  

Wildcrafters and foragers alike should also conduct their activities with ethics, conservation, and the legal aspects of their actions in mind.  Primarily, you need to know the laws surrounding your activities.  While persimmons have no laws surrounding their harvest, many states do have laws regarding products made from those persimmons (such as persimmon pulp, persimmon puddings and other baked goods).  These laws may vary from state to state, and may vary depending on the amount of processing/selling you do.  Please check with your state government

While no one will suggest you tread lightly on escaped non-native invasive plants, native plants are another matter entirely.  Non-natives can easily cause problems with native plant communities.  Often they can overrun habitats to the detriment of natives.  Heavy harvesting of Japanese knotweed, dandelions, kudzu, and others would create a net gain for the habitat and the landowner from your activities.  Basically, you have a vested interest in the welfare of that which you harvest and the landowners who show grace in allowing people to forage on their property.  It is your responsibility to conduct your foraging and wildcrafting activities accordingly.  Tearing up habitat, trampling, wholesale stripping of plants/fruits/etc, are activities which can not only anger a landowner, but may destroy your ability to harvest later.  It is up to you to garner the knowledge and expertise before you go out.  You need to learn as much as possible about the plant(s), habitat(s), the year's weather, etc.  Foragers and wildcrafters can not assume they are the only ones to harvest their particular area.

It must be noted that there are occasionally (unfortunately not at all uncommon) times when heavy harvesting is not an issue.  Foraging and wildcrafting ahead of a planned razing of a site for a housing development, road project, or industrial complex, may allow opportunities to harvest considerable amounts in a small area.  These areas will be drastically affected.  As always, good communication with the landowner is key . 

There are a number of ethical wildcrafting and foraging guidelines.  While these are basic guidelines, as noted above, responsible harvesting also involves a broad base of knowledge of plant communities, habitats, weather, an idea of land use and potential for additional visitors harvesting behind you, plants on the federally threatened/endagered/special concern lists, state listed species for your state, legal harvesting seasons, and a variety of conditions to assist you in making decisions about how and when (or when not) to harvest. 

Anyway, please look at the information on ethical harvesting that is widely available.  The following links are a starting point for ethical foraging and wildcrafting:

Wild Man Wild Food