Persimmon Ridge

By Dudley Wooten - Contributing Columnist



“As the crow flies” is a saying we all use. Well, one just flew over and that creates several thoughts for me. First, wouldn’t it be nice if we could go from “A” to “B” “as the crow flies?” Wouldn’t life be so much more efficient? We spend a lot of time and energy meandering around life’s obstacles, don’t we?

I suppose we’re happy to have all the trees, dwellings, people, and highways but they don’t allow us to maneuver “as the crow flies.”

My second thought is that here we are at Persimmon Ridge. Persimmons are a lot like sassafras. They will be on ridges and they will be that “primary” growth in forest succession. As they grow in the newly created sun at the edge of a log road, they usually achieve 12 – 14 inches in diameter and 30 feet in height in 25 – 35 years. At that time, the second stage of forest succession (aka tertiary OR intermediate stage) kicks in.

Now the oaks, maples, cherry, poplar, hickory, etc overtake the 30 foot trees in height and shade them out. It’s different here on Persimmon Ridge because someone keeps creating the “light in the forest” (as Conrad Reichter would say) by “opening up” the log road. This phenomenon has allowed some big persimmon to thrive here on borrowed time. I can relate to that about now.

I’ve been on this ridge a dozen times and each time I’m here, I learn, but I still leave with another big curious.

In my first trip,I was amazed at the number of persimmon trees (6 -12 inch diameter) there.

Another trip, I noticed a pattern. They’re in groupings of a dozen or so and these groups are maybe 25 yards apart and they’re all along this ridge.

They’re even-aged because they’re all 6 -12 inches in diameter.

Persimmons come in 3 sexes – male, female, and both-in-one. The latter 2 will bear fruit. Of course, it’s the fruit that wildlife love (particularly opossums). Many a night a dog lie has been told about possums in persimmon trees.

With the leaves and the fruit gone here in deer season, how do we identify these persimmon trees?

Once again, they’re young and they’ve had to grow up straight for 25 – 30 feet, in this limited amount of overhead light. At that 25 – 30 feet height, they’re above other trees and they can begin to form a crooked (twisting) top. That’s one identifying trait.

The very best I.D on a persimmon tree is its bark. Sassafras, yellow polar, hickories, and ash will have furrowed bark. This means it looks like “plowed furrows” running vertically up and down the trunk.

The persimmon will have that vertically “furrowed” bark also but here’s the kicker. On this tree, there are also horizontal lines running around it and through the furrows. This creates a “checkered” bark. This “checkered” pattern, darker color, and 12 -14 inch diameter size will make it a persimmon.

The wood of the persimmon is dark and is called the American version of the South American ebony wood. Golf club heads are made from persimmon.

I have a particular interest in persimmon. I like to hunt deer there, I also sell them as a fruit tree, and I “bud” them.

When I “bud” them, I’m grafting the Asian (kaki) bud onto the American (Virginiana) rootstock. This gives a larger and sweeter fruit than can be eaten right off the tree without the astringent “pucker” in your mouth. It also is a much bigger tree. This means more, larger, and sweeter.

While we’re here on Persimmon Ridge, there’s another unique and valuable pattern that deserves honorable mention. At the end of this “Persimmon Ridge” road it’s facing due north and becomes a cul-de-sac. All around this loop at the end stand sugar maples (24 – 30 inches in diameter). These trees exhibit a “swirled” pattern twisting around the trunk up to 10 -12 feet in height. This pattern will continue down into the wood and there you have “curly” and “tiger tail” maple like they chose for the Kentucky and Pennsylvania flintlock rifles of Colonial days. They also used a lot of that “special-grained” maple to make furniture. In my log home I’ve used it to accent trim. The lumber saws, planes, and sands as does any other but the grain is so “pronounced” that it catches the sunlight differently and really “jumps.” You can see it and when you run your fingers over it, you can “feel” the raised grain. With a clear finish or a “honey” stain and clear finish, the “tiger-tail” and the “curly” effects are very obvious. Wood is wonderful and curly maple is awesome.

What’s all this got to do with deer hunting? As Bendinelli would say, “Not one dom’ ting.” The truth is – to me, it has everything to do with being out here amonst ‘em.

May the forest be with you.


By Dudley Wooten

Contributing Columnist

Dudley Wooten is the owner/operator of Wooten’s Landscaping and Nursery and can be contacted at 740-820-8210.

Dudley Wooten is the owner/operator of Wooten’s Landscaping and Nursery and can be contacted at 740-820-8210.