Fruits of no labor

Wandering around the hilltop this afternoon in a heat-induced stupor … the yellowing grasses crunchy under my flip-flops … I came across this. Why hello, there. What are you, lovely little thing? A purple berry?

A quick look around the dusty ground revealed more of them in varying stages of lime green, purple and withered. All on the ground. Under the persimmon trees. Wait a minute. They’re not … are they? In July?

Uh-oh. These are persimmons. Way too early for persimmons, and they’re the wrong colors. The lovely lime green is right – if they were still in the trees. That deep purple must be what happens to the green after it’s been on the ground a while.

The little fruits are falling off the trees. Why? Is it the heat? The drought? Or are they just trying to thwack me on the head?

Our inherited stand of persimmons was something we discovered that first autumn when the fruits ripened to reddish-orange, and even clueless new landowners like us couldn’t miss seeing them.

I don’t remember my grandparents ever talking about or using the persimmons. Sand plums? Yes. Bushes are down by the river (sand plum jelly). Apples? Yep. My grandmother’s friend, Pickett, always let us come harvest as much as we wanted (apple butter). Pecans? Of course. Those big trees down at the Carpenter place were just dumping fat nuts on the ground (pecan pies). But persimmons? I didn’t even really know what one looked like til we found them in our own backyard in 2009. And I really don’t remember ever seeing persimmons when the grandfolks were here.

But the trees are there, standing tall behind the house, on the edge of the “new” prairie into which the next generation is taking up residence.

Persimmon saplings are sprouting up all over the prairie.

It took me a while to figure out what those little sprouters with the egg-shaped leaves were. When they were about three inches high earlier this spring, I pulled one up and took it to Steve Owens at Bustani Plant Farm, my go-to place for local native plants here in Oklahoma. He didn’t need to look twice to tell me it was a persimmon.

When it cools off, I have some vague plans to try to transplant some of the saplings to a more orchard-type setting. But for now, the question is …

Is fruit dropping off the trees in July normal? Should we be doing something?

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