Friday tree followup – Several people got this. Although the bark is unusually pale, this is a common persimmon, Diospyros virginiana. Persimmon is a common tree in Kentucky and is interesting year-round. The bark, resembling alligator hide, makes it easy to identify. In late fall, after a few cold nights, the fruit is ripe and delicious. It is one of our best native fruit trees, along with pawpaw and American plum.
Persimmon wood is dense, hard and dark. It is a close relative of ebony, the black wood famous for piano keys and other musical instruments. The finger boards and tuning pegs on my violins are ebony. There are three commercial ebony species, Diospyros ebenum (India and Sri Lanks), D. crassifolia (West Africa; endgangered) and D. celebica (Indonesia, vulnerable). All are of conservation concern.
Persimmon wood used to be important for golf club heads, but has been largely replaced by synthetic materials. It is a very important species for wildlife, and often bears a large fruit crop consumed by a variety of small mammals and turkeys.
This is a tree that deserves more of a place in urban landscapes where soil compaction and mower damage can be avoided.