Diospyros kaki L.f.

Diospyros kaki L.f.

Family

Ebenaceae

Synonyms

None

Vernacular Names

Malaysia

Buah kaki, buah samak.

English

Oriental persimmon, Chinese or Japanese persimmon, kaki.

Indonesia

Kesemek, buah kaki.

Cambodia

Tonloëp.

Thailand

Phlap chin (Central). 

Vietnam

Thi, hông. 

French

Plaquemijnier, kaki, raquemine.

Geographical Distributions

Diospyros kaki is one of the classical fruits of China where it was introduced in ancient times to Japan. China and Japan remain the main areas of commercial cultivation but smaller centres have developed in Italy, Israel, Brazil and United States (California). In Southeast Asia, it is grown on a limited scale in Java, Sumatra, Malaysia and northern Thailand; the astringent types of plant material were introduced from China in recent times.

Description

Diospyros kaki is a slow-growing, shrubby, dioecious (sometimes monoecious), deciduous tree, that can grow up to 15 m tall, with a short crooked trunk and a profusely branched crown.

The leaves are distichous, arranged alternately and short-petioled. The petiole is up to 3 cm long. The leaf blade is ovate-orbicular to elliptic, measuring 5-25 cm x 2.5-15 cm, with obtuse or rounded apex, short acuminate, coriaceous and shiny dark green.

The inflorescences consist of either small 3-5-flowered cymes of male flowers or of solitary female flowers. In some cultivars, the central flower of an otherwise male cluster is hermaphrodite. The flowers are 4-merous and greenish-yellow. The male flowers are with petal that is as long as the sepal, with 14-24 stamens inserted in pairs on the base of the petal. The female flowers are stalked and drooping, with two oblong-lance-shaped foliaceous green bracts, measuring up to 2.5 cm x 1 cm, with 4-lobed bell-shaped sepal measuring up to 4 cm x 6 cm and with 4-lobed tubular-bell-shaped petal. There are 8 or 16 staminodes and 8-or 10-celled ovary with 1 ovule per cell.

The fruit is a depressed, obtusely quadrangular to nearly globular berry, resembling a tomato and even more variable in size, yellowish-green to red and with enlarged persisting sepal. The mesocarp is thick and edible, in which thin jackets of edible endocarp are embedded around each seed or locule. There are 0-10 seeds which are ovoid-oblong and flattened on one side.

Ecology / Cultivation

Although of subtropical origin, Diospyros kaki is adaptable to a range of warm temperate climates, including those in tropical highlands. Experience in Southeast Asia indicates that a prominent seasonal climate is not required. Cultivation is successful in the highlands above 1000 m; but there are examples of trees bearing in the lowlands, e.g. in Kuching (Sarawak). Sheltered sites are important to prevent wind from damaging the tender young foliage and to prevent blemishes occurring on the fruit. The trees tolerate a wide range of soils, but it is much easier to sustain high yields on well-drained deep soils that are not too heavy. The recommended pH is between 5.5-6.5.

Line Drawing / Photograph

Diospyros_kaki

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References

1. Plant Resources of South-East Asia No.2: Edible fruits and nuts.