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Why Diospyros lotus not more widely grown? Anyone have it?

11 years ago

I know that this species is commonly used as a rootstock for persimmons, especially Asian varieties, but I rarely hear of folks growing D. lotus, the Date-plum, for itself.

The Plants for a Future Database, for which I have a great deal of respect, gives the Date-plum the highest edibility rating (5), while D. kaki, the Asian persimmon gets a 4. The description of the fruit for D. lotus sounds much like that for D. virginiana, the American persimmon, which also gets a rating of 5 for edibility in the database.

So the merits of D. lotus seem to be many (cold-hardiness, vigorous and disease resistant enough to be an important rootstock, and apparently having delicious fruit), and outranks Asian persimmon in many categories. So what's the story? Is there some drawback to this species I don't know about, or is it just not popular by convention? Or is this all about size? (talk about an American obsession!)

I find it strange that several unusual fruits such as Jujube, Persimmons, and Pawpaw would constantly show up in posts on this forum, but not a thing about the Date-plum!

Comments (24)

  • 11 years ago

    When I looked into it a long time ago I vaguely recall some issues with season length for ripening. Googling now all I can find is it does ripen late, and the northernmost place I can find growing it is Italy.

    Scott

  • 11 years ago

    That could be it Scott... I would not have guessed that, having such small fruit and being native to the Caucasus Mts which have a temperate flora. I guess an important question is whether the ripening process is capable of continuing after frosts begin, and after leaf fall. October/November ripening is certainly not too late compared to some persimmons though.

    I also can't find evidence of any named varieties, which would probably address the late ripening problem if they existed.

  • 11 years ago

    Lotus fruits do ripen in Europe Central just before the onset of winter. But they are small fully seeded and practically inedible. I cannot see any merits of this species other than being a good rootstock for container grown kaki. It is not a good rootstock for virginiana. Frost damage starts at - 20C (-4F) and its shallow root system may be affected to the point that the whole tree slowly dies. After this year winter in Europe I no longer use D. lotus as a rootstock for any persimmon planted outside.

  • 11 years ago

    Thanks for the first-hand info harbin. Could it be that it's "practically inedible" eaten fresh with the seeds, but something different entirely when dried?

    According to the Wikipedia entry, it is one of the oldest plants in cultivation and is the source of the genus name meaning "fruit of the gods". I wonder if the seeds are removed before drying, at which time it is comparable to dates as so many sources claim?

    Thanks harbin for the info on cold hardiness, eventual death from -4F is certainly not a fully hardy zone 6 plant.

  • 11 years ago

    I've never tasted date plums but I do have trees and have grafted some of the lotus selections from the Davis repository as well as virginiana and kaki onto one. This tree, planted from seed and now about 15 feet tall has been cold hardy and vigorous without any dieback to -7F. A late frost this season killed all the lotus blossoms so I will have to wait another year to taste the fruit. I've heard that there is demand for this fruit in parts of Asia and that seedless varieties exist.

    For those in zone 6 or higher, lotus may offer an advantage over virginiana rootstock when grafting virginiana. I know of a British grower of virginiana who uses lotus exclusively for rootstock because it does not sucker. Lotus also shows less variability than virginiana. And its root structure is better adapted to potted culture.

  • 11 years ago

    Wow creekweb, thanks for the info! I thought something sounded strange about the -4F figure, maybe has to do with European climate or to variability in D. lotus used for rootstock.

    There's a nursery here in Northern NM (also zone 6) that sells them, maybe I'll give it a try.

  • 11 years ago

    I have one by accident. Had a Hachiya persimmon grafted onto it that unfortunately got mowed down in the spring of 2011, so now it's D. lotus. The funny thing is that it just got mowed down again a couple of weeks ago, even though I had it clearly marked. But it's already growing back.

    D. lotus seems to be like roaches--you can't kill 'em! ;)

  • 11 years ago

    Anyone have a superior-fruiting selection? It ripens fully in zone 6b.

  • 11 years ago

    Surprised someone didn't mention the biggest reason for their scarcity in the fruit tree trade, you need both a mature male and female tree (it is a dioecious species), a female clone wouldn't work, no fruits would be produced. You need a proven male clone and a proven female clone and the willingness to use the land space for two trees just to produce a crop on the female tree (something a commercial pistachio or date-plum orchard has the space to do, plant one male for every so many female trees), or you need to use seedlings and then weed out the herd at sexual maturity. Neither of these two things is ever going to be widely done by hobbyist growers so although available if you really look, it'll never be as common as peaches, plums, cherries etc. in local nurseries or catalogs.

    Private growers want self-pollinating fruit trees for the most part (the public really loves combo graft trees because of the space they save), or if they live in a region where pollinators are plentiful and it's never an issue on crop yields (living in orchard country/farmland with its thousands of beehives for example) even then they at least want a tree that bears fruit, not take a 50/50 chance. Growing a pair of Kiwi vines is one thing, but growing two trees is by many magnitudes a deeper investment most gardeners won't bother making. Now if your local Lowe's had a male clone GRAFTED onto a female tree (and assuming the flowers of both sexes on the tree would be produced in sync for successful reproduction, the pollen remaining fertile) then you'd make date-plum trees much more popular. Since commercial growers don't already do this for pistacios and date-plums and other dioecious species (do they???) I'm guessing the male stops producing fertile male flowers once it's grafted to a female.

  • 11 years ago

    Without being so technical I must say that I've seen single trees bearing seeded fruits.

  • 11 years ago

    Of course you have harbin, that's because that tree is within pollination range of an adult male tree, depending on where you live in Europe trees of both sexes are common there, they can even be found as street and park trees (same goes for the Middle East, India and other regions) In the U.S., however, less than 2% of us live near enough to adult male date-plum trees (usually located on orchards) to get a female tree pollinated. I can do it because I live in the heart of orchard country, I can also plant single female Kiwis and they will bear fruit because male vines are grown nearby, but that's a huge exception to the conditions most American gardeners have. Now if your neighbor has a male tree you're in luck, but otherwise the species is still too uncommon here for most people to benefit from proximity to male trees, you will in most cases have to plant one yourself.

  • 11 years ago

    If, floramakros, date plum is uncommon in the USA then it is virtually non existent in the place where I live. Single trees can be seen in arboretums and that's it. I mean persimmon (both american and asian) is not strictly dioecious and some trees can be monoecious. That means male and female flowers on one tree. Diospyros lotus is no exception and probably has more frequent occurence of monoecious trees than kaki or virginiana.

  • 11 years ago

    Hey all,
    I received 5 D. lotus from Horizon Herb in OR and repotted them last fall. I am getting ready to plant them in gound and hope I get at least one sex of each. I am using them to line my drive and hope to have fruit. I will see if bletting works because I am trying medlar as well.

    Everything old is new again!
    s

  • 7 years ago

    I found this old thread and thought I'd try to revive it. I recently picked up a bare root Diospyros lotus at a scion exchange with the intention of using it as a rootstock for several common persimmon varieties, but I wondered about leaving one branch to grow and see if it will produce fruit. In the years since this thread was started, has anybody harvested and eaten D. lotus fruit, and if so, what did you think of it? Is it worth growing?

  • 7 years ago

    From what I heard that D. lotus was not a good eating persimmon and just use for rootstocks.

    Tony


  • 5 years ago

    I’ve got a question regard Diospyros Lotus... has anyone planted this near a driveway or structure of any kind? I bout a persimmon grafted to this rootstock and am wondering how the root system cowoperates with surround structures. Does anyone have any experience with a mature root system of the D. Lotus?

  • 5 years ago

    The date-plum is very rare in Bulgaria (Eastern Europe), but it's cold hardy for zone 6. I know two people who grow them, and one of them has a single tree which bears fruit with few seeds (like one seed per 20 fruits) and swears there is no other d. lotus in a 10-km radius. The other guy grows kaki and virginiana, but has known and loved the lotus from his youth - always had them at home and says they taste like "marmalade". That is, very sweet. I don't think he has both male and female trees for fruit to set. I got a few seedlings from him a year ago, but they are still too small to blossom.


    And, yes, I have heard people in Bulgaria say the d. lotus is not good for eating, too small and full of seeds. So there you have it - "marmalade" and "no good". I personally have tried the fruit only once, but a lot of them. However, they were picked off a tree in January, after snow and what not, and then stored by my dad in a polyethylene bag for two weeks, i.e. were a little mouldy. They were not overly sweet, and a bit too dry, but palatable in my opinion. I believe if they had been picked earlier in December or November, they would have tasted much better.


    I also find it interesting that they guy in England used the date-plum as rootstock for the American persimmon. Some people here claim that the lotus rootstock is incompatible with virginiana and will eventually reject the graft. I don't know for sure, but I would prefer using virginiana as a rootstock for other virginiana cultivars.

  • 5 years ago

    Can this plant be container grown as an indoor plant?

  • 5 years ago

    As a follow-up to my post of seven years ago, my date plum tree never did bear fruit and succumbed to a harsh winter down to -11 F a number of years ago. My experience with the tree as a route stockwas that it showed some degree of incompatibility with several khaki varieties that I grafted onto it. I had also grafted virginiana onto it but it died before I could fully evaluate.

  • 5 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    Hello all,

    It has been a while since I last visited this Houzz site. After 13 years of growing Kaki and Hybrid persimmons for trialing in Z5. I came to a conclusion that even the hardiest Tam Kam and Chinebuli with Winter protection in Z5 with an occassion dipped to -20F would not cut it. On the other hand, I found that JT-02 aka Mikkuso after trialing for 4 years and it can handled the cold to -20F this past Winter. So this is the One. Mikkusu was created in Japan and Jerry Lehman brought the scions to the US and grafted in his farm in Terre Haute, IN. The JT-02 taste richer than Hachiya and super cold hardy that blew Rossyanka away. I topworked most of my persimmon tree to the one JT-02 aaaka Mikkusu.

    Tony

    18 feet tall Prok and the lower 8 feet bark grafted to JT-02.











    Here is my 10 years old Nikita's Gift topworked to Rossyyanka and now topworked to JT-02 aka Mikkusu, so basically this tree got 3 different Hybrid persimmon interstem in the main trunk. Crazy stuff.... LOL.



    So go ahead and get yourself a JT-02 aka Mikkusu. Cliff England is seelling it at nuttrees.net

    JT-02 tree from Cliff England orchard



  • 5 years ago

    Tony,

    Thanks for posting the photos. Are you seeing a definite difference in the cold-hardiness between JT-02 and Kasandra? Those 2 are the only ones I'm grafting anymore, other than some American persimmon varieties. Haven't tried the JT fruit yet, but the Kasandra is top-notch. These 2 came through this past winter unprotected without any dieback while I had severe dieback on all my kakis and considerable dieback on Rosseyanka and most American persimmon trees and pawpaws as well - worst widespread dieback I've seen in 20 years.

  • PRO
    3 years ago

    I planted a handful of seeds in 1990 on a South Wall of my bollard, Seattle home. 5 stone trees grew about 10-12" apart from each other. After 10 years the Grove was nearly 25' high. Every autumn the abundance of fruit, bletted by a few frosts, were as good as any date. superior to American and kaki which never quite make the sugar. I am always on the lookout for fresh seed as that home sold, land bulldozed. a few bowls were turned of the wood, love these ebony-family trees.

  • PRO
    3 years ago

    5 strong