Index of Species Information

SPECIES:  Diospyros texana


SPECIES: Diospyros texana
AUTHORSHIP AND CITATION : Carey, Jennifer H. 1994. Diospyros texana. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: [].
ABBREVIATION : DIOTEX SYNONYMS : NO-ENTRY SCS PLANT CODE : DITE3 COMMON NAMES : Texas persimmon Mexican persimmon TAXONOMY : The currently accepted scientific name for Texas persimmon is Diospyros texana Scheele (Ebenaceae) [25,30,33,34]. There are no currently accepted infrataxa. LIFE FORM : Tree FEDERAL LEGAL STATUS : No special status OTHER STATUS : NO-ENTRY


SPECIES: Diospyros texana
GENERAL DISTRIBUTION : Texas persimmon is endemic to southern and central Texas and northern Mexico.  In Texas, it occurs in the Rio Grande Plains, Edwards Plateau, and the southeastern corner of the Trans-Pecos region.  In Mexico, Texas persimmon occurs in the northern portions of Neuvo Leon, Coahuila, and Tamaulipas [25,30,33,34].  It may also occur in the extreme northeastern corner of Chihuahua [25]. ECOSYSTEMS :    FRES15  Oak - hickory    FRES32  Texas savanna    FRES33  Southwestern shrubsteppe    FRES38  Plains grasslands STATES :      TX  MEXICO BLM PHYSIOGRAPHIC REGIONS :    13  Rocky Mountain Piedmont    14  Great Plains KUCHLER PLANT ASSOCIATIONS :    K060  Mesquite savanna    K061  Mesquite - acacia savanna    K062  Mesquite - live oak savanna    K085  Mesquite - buffalograss    K086  Juniper - oak savanna    K087  Mesquite - oak savanna SAF COVER TYPES :     68  Mesquite SRM (RANGELAND) COVER TYPES : NO-ENTRY HABITAT TYPES AND PLANT COMMUNITIES : Texas persimmon is a common component in many mature riparian and woody upland communities [40].  On floodplain terraces Texas persimmon is a characteristic component of riparian forests which are dominated or codominated by live oak (Quercus virginiana), netleaf hackberry (Celtis reticulata), sugarberry (C. laevigata), pecan (Carya illinoensis), cedar-elm (Ulmus crassifolia), western soapberry (Sapindus saponaria var. drummondii), great leucaena (Leucaena pulverulenta), and ash (Fraxinus spp.) [13,36,43,48,49].  Associate understory species include granjeno (Celtis pallida), huisache (Acacia farnesiana), and lime pricklyash (Zanthoxylum fagara) [27,43]. In the Cedar Breaks region of the Edwards Plateau, Texas persimmon occurs in scrub evergreen forests with Ashe juniper (Juniperus ashei), mescalbean sophora (Sophora secundiflora), and Texas live oak (Quercus virginiana var. fusiformis) [39]. In invading thorn woodlands on former grassland sites, Texas persimmon occurs with Texas prickly pear (Opuntia lindheimeri), lime pricklyash, granjeno, lotebush (Condalia obovata), agarito (Mahonia trifoliolata), and blackbrush acacia (Acacia rigidula) [3,7,15].  On the Rio Grande Plains, Texas persimmon occurs in a honey mesquite (Prosopis glandulosa var. glandulosa)-mixed brush shrubland community and in a honey mesquite/bristlegrass (Setaria spp.)/forb woodland [17]. Texas persimmon may become codominant in the netleaf hackberry-huisache association and the honey mesquite-granjeno association [27].


SPECIES: Diospyros texana
WOOD PRODUCTS VALUE : Texas persimmon wood is black, hard, and heavy.  It takes a high polish and is used for tools, engraving blocks, and art work [30,34,41]. IMPORTANCE TO LIVESTOCK AND WILDLIFE : Wildlife use Texas persimmon for food, shelter, and cover.  Coyote, raccoon, ringtail, foxes, and other mammals and birds eat the fruit [1,14].  Spanish goats consume large amounts of Texas persimmon foliage [22].  White-tailed deer browse the foliage lightly [11,19]. In brushy habitats Texas persimmon and other woody species form a tall overlapping canopy which produces thermal, hiding, and escape cover for white-tailed deer [47]. PALATABILITY : Texas persimmon browse is of low preference to white-tailed deer [4]. NUTRITIONAL VALUE : Dry-weight Texas persimmon browse averages 14 percent protein, 0.25 percent phosphorus, 1.55 percent potassium, 2.46 percent calcium, 0.64 percent magnesium, and 0.08 percent sodium [19].  The browse has medium food value for white-tailed deer [11]. COVER VALUE : NO-ENTRY VALUE FOR REHABILITATION OF DISTURBED SITES : Container-grown Texas persimmon was planted with other native species on a borrow pit reclamation site in central Texas.  The exposed subsoil and sandstone was covered with 4 to 6 inches (10-15 cm) of topsoil before planting.  Eighty percent of the woody transplants survived the first summer and winter [26]. OTHER USES AND VALUES : Texas persimmon fruit is edible and used in puddings and custards.  The fruit pulp produces an indelible black stain.  Mexicans use it to dye animal hides [30,34,41]. Texas persimmon is used for landscaping [33]. OTHER MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS : Texas persimmon is one of many woody species that has contributed to brush problems on Texas rangeland.  With overgrazing, drought, increased seed dispersal, and decreased fire frequency, woody species have expanded from lowlands onto uplands.  Managers are concerned with the corresponding decrease in grass forage and are experimenting with methods for controlling brush [9]. Double chaining is an effective means of opening up dense stands of scrub oak (Quercus spp.)-juniper (Juniperus spp.) communities which contain Texas persimmon.  In a study on the Edwards Plateau, brush canopy was 80 percent lower on treated than untreated brush stands 1 year after double chaining [32].  Mechanical brush removal followed by prescribed fire is the most effective brush control method (See FIRE MANAGEMENT) [8,9]. Texas persimmon is generally resistant to herbicides.  Texas persimmon was only slightly susceptible to soil application of picloram pellets [23].  Canopy reductions of Texas persimmon after aerial application of picloram and 2,4,5,-T are described [6]. Spanish goats can be used to control brush.  Optimum goat stocking densities and management are described [22]. Bryant and Kothmann [12] estimated Texas persimmon browse biomass using regression equations with crown volume and weight relationships.


SPECIES: Diospyros texana
GENERAL BOTANICAL CHARACTERISTICS : Texas persimmon is a small, native, dioecious tree with smooth, peeling bark [30,41].  Texas persimmon leaves are generally deciduous at the northern edge of its range but become persistent further south [33]. Texas persimmon generally grows to about 10 feet (3 m) in height, but may grow to 40 feet (12 m) on good sites [33].  The three- to eight-seeded fruit is about 0.8 inches (2 cm) in diameter [30,41]. Several characteristics enable Texas persimmon to survive in semiarid environments.  The broad upwardly inclined leaves and smooth bark with low water retention serve to funnel rainwater down the stems.  Stemflow volume of Texas persimmon is 5.6 percent of the total precipitation over the crown of the tree [29].  In addition, the leaves are sclerophyllous and drought deciduous [45]. RAUNKIAER LIFE FORM :       Phanerophyte REGENERATION PROCESSES : Texas persimmon regenerates by vegetative reproduction and seed. Five- to six-year-old individuals may begin producing fruit [33].  The seeds are dispersed by animals.  In a study on the Edwards Plateau, more than 90 percent of carnivore feces collected between September and November contained Texas persimmon seeds.  The study did not include data on herbivores.  Seeds are not destroyed by mastication or digestion [14]. Texas persimmon seeds washed free of fruit pulp germinate readily, but seeds covered with intact fruit do not.  The fruit apparently contains an inhibitor.  Texas persimmon fruit pulp inhibited the root growth of germinating honey mesquite [28]. Texas persimmon seeds are nondormant.  Laboratory acid treatments are detrimental to germination [18,38,42].  Seeds germinate anytime that soils are moist.  In wet years fall germination is followed by slow winter growth and increased growth in the spring.  In dry years seeds do not germinate until the next wet season, usually the following spring [38].  Viability is not reduced after 2 years in storage [18]. Germination rates are generally high (50-90%) [18,38,42].  Germination rates in excess of 90 percent occur when temperatures are between 68 and 86 degrees Fahrenheit (20 and 30 deg C), but rates drop considerably at lower temperatures.  Germination occurs equally well in light and dark conditions [18].  The germination rate after scarification with coarse sandpaper for 2 minutes was 77 percent, higher than the unscarified control seeds at 55 percent [42]. Seedlings are not dependent on soil cover for establishment, but highest emergence (73%) and 60-day height growth [8.2 inches (20.8 cm)] occurred when seeds were covered with 0.4 inch (1 cm) of soil.  Soil depths of 0.8 to 2.8 inches (2-7 cm) did not severely restrict emergence and height growth [18]. Texas persimmon grows slowly; it reaches 2.0 to 3.6 feet (0.6-1.1 m) in height after 5 years [44]. SITE CHARACTERISTICS : Texas persimmon occurs on semiarid sites including rocky north slopes, arroyos, ravines, and upper floodplain terraces [30,41].  In drier regions, it is confined to canyon sites [10].  Texas persimmon grows on a variety of soil types including calcareous soils [30,41], clays, and fine sandy loams [2,7].  It occurs from 1,100 to 5,700 feet (300-1,700 m) elevation [30]. The climate in southern Texas and northern Mexico is subtropical with warm winters and hot humid summers.  Rainfall is bimodal, peaking in the spring and fall [2]. SUCCESSIONAL STATUS : Facultative Seral Species Texas persimmon is shade tolerant [38].  It is an important species in mature woodlands [39].  Seedlings grow as well in 50 percent shade as in full sunlight [38].  There are 150 to 700 Texas persimmon per hectare in deciduous and evergreen woodlands in the southeastern portion of the Edwards Plateau.  About 80 percent are between 0.4 and 2.0 inches (1-5 cm) in diameter at ground level, indicating recent recruitment into the population or suppressed growth [38,39,40]. During the past century brush has invaded the savannas and grasslands of Texas; woody cover increased an estimated 16 to 36 percent between 1941 and 1983.  Honey mesquite generally invades first, then serves as a focus for wildlife which disseminate the seeds of other woody species. Clusters of brush develop and stabilize.  Texas persimmon attains 50 percent frequency in brush clusters that are 86 to 118 square feet (8-11 sq m) about 30 to 40 years after the initial honey mesquite invasion. Texas persimmon occurs frequently in brush clusters that contain at least four to six woody species [2,3]. SEASONAL DEVELOPMENT : Texas persimmon flowers from February to June [30].  Fruits mature in August and September [38].


SPECIES: Diospyros texana
FIRE ECOLOGY OR ADAPTATIONS : It is likely that Texas persimmon cannot persist in communities with high fire frequency.  However, the sprouting ability of Texas persimmon enables it to survive occasional fire. Texas persimmon historically occurred in areas such as lowlands, floodplains, and arroyos, which did not experience fire as frequently as the upland prairies.  As fire frequency in the prairies was reduced during the past century, Texas persimmon expanded into the uplands with other woody species.  Drought, overgrazing, and seed dispersal by livestock which range further into uplands due to artificial watering holes also enhanced the spread of woody species onto grasslands. However, the reduced frequency of prairie fires played a major role in upsetting the equilibrium between grass and brush [7,46]. FIRE REGIMES : Find fire regime information for the plant communities in which this species may occur by entering the species name in the FEIS home page under "Find Fire Regimes". POSTFIRE REGENERATION STRATEGY :    Tree with adventitious-bud root crown/soboliferous species root sucker


SPECIES: Diospyros texana
IMMEDIATE FIRE EFFECT ON PLANT : Fire top-kills mature Texas persimmon.  A greater fuel load results in more top-kill, especially in individuals less than 1 inch (2.5 cm) basal diameter [46].  Fire may completely kill Texas persimmon, especially smaller individuals [8]. DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF FIRE EFFECT : NO-ENTRY PLANT RESPONSE TO FIRE : Texas persimmon sprouts from the root crown when top-killed by fire [8,16].  One year after fire in a chaparral-mixed grass community in the Welder Wildlife Refuge, surviving Texas persimmon had sprouted and was growing vigorously [16]. DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF PLANT RESPONSE : NO-ENTRY FIRE MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS : Managers use fire in combination with mechanical methods to control and remove brush from grasslands.  On a loam prairie site in Goliad County, Texas persimmon decreased as much as 68 percent with mechanical treatment combinations followed by 2 consecutive years of August fires. Treatment combinations included roller chopping followed by 2 consecutive years of shredding, and roller chopping, shredding, and herbicide spraying while shredding [15]. On the Welder Wildlife Refuge in southern Texas, mechanical brush removal treatments followed by fall fire 2 years later was applied to a chaparral-bristlegrass community.  Fires were more effective at brush control if the area had been pretreated with mechanical brush removal. Plots with mechanical removal (chopped, scalped with a bulldozer, or shredded with a rotary mower) burned uniformly because of available fuel.  In plots with no mechanical pretreatment, fire carried in the grass and into small brush clumps, but large brush mottes remained unburned.  On burned plots, 10 percent of Texas persimmon, mostly small plants, were completely killed; the remainder were top-killed but sprouted from the root crown.  At postfire year 1, Texas persimmon average percent frequency for unburned (but mechanically treated) plots was 19 percent and for pretreated burned plots was 10 percent [8].


SPECIES: Diospyros texana
FIRE CASE STUDY CITATION : Carey, Jennifer H., compiler. 1994. Fire temperatures and the effect of burning on Texas persimmon on the Welder Wildlife Refuge, south Texas. In: Diospyros texana. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: []. REFERENCE : White, Richard S. 1969. Fire temperatures and the effect of burning on south Texas brush communities. Lubbock, TX: Texas Technological College. 74 p. Thesis. [46]. SEASON/SEVERITY CLASSIFICATION : Spring/variable severity STUDY LOCATION : The study was conducted on the Welder Wildlife Refuge in San Patricio County, Texas, about 20 miles (32 km) north of Corpus Christi. PREFIRE VEGETATIVE COMMUNITY : Two plant communities are present in the study area: chaparral-bristlegrass (Setaria spp.) and honey mesquite (Prosopis glandulosa var. glandulosa)-buffalograss (Buchloe dactyloides). Collectively, these communities are dominated by leguminous shrubs interspersed with grasses.  Honey mesquite and huisache (Acacia farnesiana) dominate the shrub layer, and seacoast bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium var. littoralis) is the most abundant graminoid. TARGET SPECIES PHENOLOGICAL STATE : At the time of the fire, Texas persimmon (Diospyros texana) was semidormant.  A few old leaves were present on some plants.  Two weeks after the fire, leaf buds began to open on unburned plots. SITE DESCRIPTION : The study is located on the Gulf Coastal Plain so presumably the topography is flat or rolling.  The soil is a clay in the Vertisols order.  The climate is subtropical; rainfall averages 30 inches (760 mm) a year. FIRE DESCRIPTION : The 10-acre (4 ha) study site was divided into four subplots; one was burned on March 8 and the remaining three on March 12.  Fire weather and site conditions for the March 8 fire were as follows:  air temperature 60 degrees Fahrenheit (16 deg C), relative humidity 90 percent, wind velocity 10 miles per hour (16 k/h), soil moisture 40 percent, and herbaceous fuel moisture 9 percent.  Conditions for the March 12 fire were as follows:  air temperature 55 degrees Fahrenheit (13 deg C), relative humidity 45 percent, wind velocity 20 to 30 miles per hour (32-48 k/h), soil moisture 37 percent, and herbaceous fuel moisture 7 percent.  Both fires were wind driven.  The March 12 fire was hotter than the March 8 fire primarily because of lower humidity and higher wind velocity.   Forty to fifty percent of the study site did not burn.  Fire carried well through the tall seacoast bluestem but burned poorly in areas dominated by shorter grasses.  Surface temperatures during the fires were extremely variable.  Maximum surface temperatures ranged from 480 to 1,350 degrees Fahrenheit (249-732 deg C).  Temperature showed a weak (P<0.10) correlation with fuel quantity.  Flame height was about 7 feet (2.1 m) on March 8 and 8 feet (2.4 m) on March 12. FIRE EFFECTS ON TARGET SPECIES : Although 50 Texas persimmon plants were originally tagged for postfire study, only 17 plants were analyzed because of incomplete burning. Percent partial and complete top-kill of Texas persimmon at different fuel loads follows:            Fuel         Partial Top-kill Complete Top-kill         (lbs/acre)         (percent)                (percent)           0-2,000              67                       33         2,000-4,000            25                       75           > 4,000               0                      100 Regardless of fuel load, no Texas persimmon was completely killed. Fire damage to Texas persimmon was inversely related to its size when fuel loads were less than 2,000 lbs per acre.  Of six individuals less than 1 inch (2.5 cm) in basal diameter, three individuals were partially top-killed and three were completely top-killed.  Of six individuals greater than 1 inch (2.5 cm) in basal diameter, five were partially top-killed and only one was completely top-killed. FIRE MANAGEMENT IMPLICATIONS : Spring fire was effective at top-killing Texas persimmon, but did not result in mortality.  For useful brush control, fire must be applied a number of times over a period of years.  To achieve maximum results, fire should be prescribed when the plants are young and the fuel load is high.


SPECIES: Diospyros texana
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