Common persimmon (Diospyros virginiana L.), a naturalized, potentially invasive species in the state of California.
Common persimmon (Diospyros virginiana L.) is a deciduous tree occurring widely in eastern North America, as far west as Texas. The species is known for producing relatively large, edible fruits that were consumed by Native Americans and by the European colonists who arrived in North America more recently. Because of its fruit production, D. virginiana is broadly planted outside its natural range. Here, I report on five naturalized occurrences of D. virginiana found in the state of California, where the species is not native. In 2016 and 2017, these populations were surveyed and monitored for fruit production. In all populations, mature fruits were found in the autumn, and these fruits were observed to produce viable seeds with filled embryos. Two of the populations have greater than 70 individuals and contain trees at varying levels of maturity. It is not yet known if these populations are the result of asexual reproduction via root sprouting or sexual reproduction via diaspores. However, the production of viable diaspores in all surveyed populations indicates that sexual seed set is occurring. The large size of two stands, one along a creek in Butte County and the other on a river flood plain in Tulare County, suggests that some areas of California might be susceptible to invasion by this species. Future research should try to determine whether recruitment via diaspores is occurring, and whether these seeds are the product of selfing in perfect-flowered plants, or cross fertilization in a population containing both male and female plants, as this would have important implications for the potential invasiveness of this species in the state.