"Bayou Bill" Scifres
Dedicated to the conservation and enjoyment of Indiana's natural resources
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Persimmon and Paw-Paw Propagation
Copyright © 2005 by Bill Scifres

Perhaps I was unconsciously invoking that sixth sense that tells an outdoors person that there is more about than meets the eye. 

However that may have been, suddenly I realized there was more to this beautiful October morning than a box of persimmons. And, it was very close. But what was it? 

For a short time I forgot about harvesting those succulent, pumpkin-orange fruits that would, to my delight, be turned into a persimmon pudding, or perhaps cookies, rolls, or even wine. 

But who, or what, was this strange interloper into my day? Whatever it was, it stopped me in my tracks as my eyes swept the area around the big tree. Foot-by-foot, inch-by-inch--somewhat as in mushroom hunting--my eyes swept the area, but I could find nothing unusual about the area. 

Then, just as in mushroom hunting and cleaning up doggie doo-doo in the backyard (I often can’t see those “things” until I am standing on ‘em), this intruder stuck out like a sore thumb in a game of touch football. I simply had not been “seeing the forest for the trees.”

But there they were . . . all about me.  . .a stunning array of persimmon leaves;  shades of bright yellow laced with more shiny, black designs than my vision, and ability to comprehend, could even hope to record. 

Only one thing to do, forget the persimmons, temporarily, and photograph some of the outstanding designs on the leaves. And so my persimmon hunt faltered. But not before there was enough fruit to make two pints of pulp that would be frozen for use later in the fall or winter. 

Now that we have zeroed in on persimmons, the time is ripe to answer some questions concerning the propagation of persimmon and paw-paw trees (the latter is often more like a shrub). 

I have had several requests recently for information on propagating these two “fruit producers.”

I have been largely unsuccessful over the years in planting seeds from these fruits. My only success apparently came from simply broadcasting the seeds in likely places after all of my attempts to plant seeds had failed. 

I have a small grove of half a dozen paw-paw plants in a deep-shaded spot on the riverbank behind the house. At another house my efforts spawned a persimmon tree as big as a broom handle. 

In an attempt to be more botanically scientific in answering the queries I have received, I called Bob Hawkins, supervisor of the Indiana Division of Forestry nursery at Vallonia (south of Brownstown). 

Bob says persimmons and paw-paws can be propagated by planting the seeds about one inch deep in good soil. He cautions that while fall is the time to plant these seeds, they do not normally produce seedlings until early summer in the following year. 

Incidentally, Hawkins points out that those who want to dress up a piece of land with paw-paw, persimmon, and many other trees, the two nurseries of the Division of Forestry now are accepting orders for seedlings that will be delivered next spring. 

Order forms will be found on line at: www.in.gov/dnr/forestry (http://www.in.gov/dnr/forestry). Order forms also are available by calling theVallonia nursery (1/812-358-3621) by US mail: IDNR Nursery Program, PO Box 218, Vallonia,  IN 47281. 

Placing an order does not assure that the order will be filled. If there are orders for more seedlings than the nursery produces, successful applicants  (orders) of a lottery-type drawing will be filled. That lottery, if necessary, will be conducted late this month or early in November. Stocks available next spring will be sold over the counter. Orders can be shipped for a fee, or they may be picked up at the nursery.

Click on thumbnail image for enlarged view.

The beauty of persimmon leaves. 
persimmonleaf 1.jpg (41276 bytes)

All columns, essays, and photos are copyrighted by Bill Scifres and may not be reproduced in any form without prior permission from the author.  For reproduction permission and media usage fees, contact: Bill Scifres, 6420 East 116th Street, Fishers, IN 46038, E-mail: billscifres@aol.com

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