Sugar Plums in Virginia?

“While visions of sugarplums danced in their heads.” So reads a happy line from the famous poem by Clement Clarke Moore, The Night Before Christmas. Written in 1822 for his children. Published anonymously in 1823 in the Troy Sentinel. It was thought to have been given to the paper by a family friend.

It has been illustrated many times over the years. During the 1860’s it received its’ best known illustrations. Done by Thomas Nast for the Harpers Weekly. Nast, a political cartoonist best known for his Republican elephant and Democratic donkey, dressed Santa in the recognizable red fur trimmed in white and black belt today.

Diospyros virginiana is our sugar plum here in Virginia and thankfully is on our farm. Best known as the Persimmon tree. It is also called American persimmon, possum apples, or sugar plum to name a few. Wildlife enjoy them every fall, and so do our horses. So do we! We have had them on every farm here in the Appalachian Highlands.

Diospros virginiana, aka Persimmon, possum apples, or sugar plum.

Old timers used to tell us they were not good for eating until after the first hard frost. And if one wants a good laugh at the expense of another, give them an unripe persimmon to eat. They are so bitter, and makes one pucker! Truth is after a spell of good cool nights and days, they can be eaten. Just be sure to know the difference between the ripe and unripe. The ripe is soft to touch, and has a pretty deeper color then unripe one. In above photo, the ripe fruit is in the center of the frame. Do you see the difference in colors? They grow deeper in that pretty orange-like color as they ripen even more. In the photo below the beginning-to-ripe persimmon displays both yellow and reddish colors. And like most ripe fruit, they are plucked easily from their branches.

These are only beginning to get ripe.
They look like little Christmas ball hanging on the trees all late fall and winter.

Many folks do not know they even have these sweet trees on their property. The native ones do not get very large. It is rather like a treasure hunt finding them. In springtime they have the most lovely little white blossoms. The petals curl back on the flower. But for sure your horses know where they are. They will quickly clean up the fallen ones as will all the wildlife. They are a sweet treat.

Image result for photo of persimmon flowers
Internet photo

Ours grow on the western boundary line of our farm behind the barn. This area is not fenced so none of our animals can get to the trees, though the wildlife can. I pick them up and give them as treats to the horses in the evening. So far I have not found any in the woods.

If they see me going out behind the barn, they know something good is coming.
I try to be sneaky about it. They do not get them everyday.
The pretty orange-red color of ripe persimmons.

If the horses could get to them they would eat up every single one. Much of the fruit clings to the trees. A steady wind will bring them down though.

They are sure enjoying their treats!
See how rather little they are? The pine tree is much larger.
Yummy little sugar plums. Enjoyed by man and beast.

On your next walk about outside, look and see if you can find this sweet treat tree. You will have found a friend!

An interesting fact—A friend told me years ago Persimmon wood is the preferred wood for golf club heads.

6 thoughts on “Sugar Plums in Virginia?

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