A Persimmon

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The Greek prefix for a persimmon is Diospyros. Popular etymology construed this as “divine fruit,” “God’s pear” and “Jove’s fire.”

The word persimmon itself is a Native American word coined by the Powhatans who were part of the Algonquian tribe of the eastern United States. The Powhatans chose this word because it meant in their language “a dry fruit.” Anyone who has ever tried to eat a persimmon before it was ripe is more likely to go with the Powhatan “a dry fruit” than with the Greek “Jove’s fire.” I was struck in my kitchen by the beauty of the top leaf of this persimmon. There’s the old-paper-crackly splits and tears around the edges. And the various colors of green that range from an old burnt look to a sweet pale hue. The spiral of light green in the center of the leaf delighted me when I spotted it. And finally there’s the little nub where the fruit (actually a berry if we wanted to be correct) hung on the tree. A work of art within itself.