Roots, Shoots, Fruits & Flowers: Strange Persimmons, Various Berries, Wild Plums, & Citrus Fertilization


A misshaped persimmon. Photo: Terri Linzay, Master Gardener, Alexandria, LA.

Strange Persimmons

Terri, a Master Gardener from Alexandria, sent images of some deformed fruit with this message, “My cousin’s persimmons have some weird shapes. Do you know what happened? And she is wondering if she can eat them.”

Dr. Charles Johnson, retired fruit specialist & Professor Emeritus with the LSU AgCenter, shared his comments about this strange fruit, “Misshapen fruit is a fairly common occurrence on certain Japanese persimmon varieties. It is a pollination / growth hormone problem. I have seen it on Fuyu and Suruga varieties. Temperatures during pollination can be a factor.”

Regarding edibility, AHA recommended, “I suspect she can eat them. I suggest she cut the fruit and examine the flesh. Also, ask her to smell and to taste to see what the flavor is like.


Red mature berries of the yaupon holly. Photos: Kathryn Mott.


Green immature berries on the right of the yaupon holly. Photos: Kathryn Mott.


Berries and leaves of the Chinese fringe tree. Photo: Kathryn Mott.

Various Berries

Kathryn sent in a couple of images of berries and asked, “Good afternoon, I have 2 more berries to identify. I would appreciate it if you could help me with these as well. Thanks in advance.”

These berries are from the same plant, the yaupon holly. Dr. Heather Kirk-Ballard, a horticulture specialist and the primary writer for the “Get it Growing” column, made this observation about yaupon berries, “The gorgeous red berries are eaten by many species of birds, and the fruiting branches have been used as holiday decorations in the wintertime when berries are present. The dark green foliage and bright red berries make beautiful table arrangements or can be tucked into wreaths and garland.”

In an earlier email, Kathryn asks a similar question about identifying some other berries, “Can you please help me identify these?”

Kathryn has a Chinese fringe tree. In a “Get It Growing” column from earlier in 2020, Dr. Kirk-Ballard described some characteristics of the Chinese fringe tree, “…the Chinese fringe tree (Chionanthus retusus), is a native of Asia. Chinese fringe trees range from Korea to Japan to China, but they also grow well in Louisiana. Chinese fringe tree flowers are showier than our native species. It is said that in China, the young leaves of the Chinese fringe tree are used as a tea substitute, and some are considered equal in fragrance to the best green teas.”

She also adds, “Fringe trees are low-maintenance with medium watering requirements and few pests or disease problems. They also tolerate air pollution and adapt well to urban settings. However, they are not very drought tolerant. They will thrive in most landscape settings. The fringe tree is adaptable to a wide variety of soils, including clay or sandy soils that may pose problems for many other plants. They also like moist or wet soils and can be used in rain gardens or low-lying areas.”


Wild plums. Photo: Dennis Gibson.

Wild Plums

Dennis also asked to identify some fruit, “I hope you can help me figure out what these are. Looks like wild plums to me. Thank you very much.”

Dennis is correct in identifying the fruit as “wild plum”. He sent a follow up question, “Next question: are they edible? They kind of favor little red plums I ate when I was little. I believe they called ‘hog plums.’”

According to the website of NC State Extension, “Although the plums can be eaten raw, the quality is somewhat poor. The fruits are perhaps better used for preserves and jellies or dried to make prunes.” NC State Extension also confirmed that “hog plum” is one of the common names for native plums.


Meyer lemon. Photo: Louisiana Home Citrus Production Guide.

Citrus Fertilization

Carla asks about one of her fruits trees, “I am seeking assistance regarding lemon trees. I live in Kinder, LA and have recently planted a lemon tree to replace the one I had prior to the storms in our area.

Can you advise me on what type of fertilizer to use and any other suggestions regarding the health of this tree? It's looking rather sickly currently.”

First, obtain a soil sampling kit from an AgCenter office. Submit a soil sample and within a business week, The AgCenter’s soil lab will send results and recommendations for the type of rate of fertilizer.

Robert Souvestre, a retired horticulture agent with the AgCenter, also made these recommendations regarding fertilizing citrus, “Fertilizing trees depends on tree age. Young, non-bearing trees and mature trees require different approaches. Young trees need to develop leaf and stem growth while mature trees growth is minimized to enhance fruit yield. The LSU AgCenter recommends fertilizing in new trees mid-March or six weeks after transplanting and all other trees from late January to early February. A second fertilization for bearing age trees, those four years and older, is applied late May or June.”

If you want to contact Roots, Shoots, Fruits and Flowers, please send your questions and pictures to Keith Hawkins, Area Horticulture Agent (AHA), 318.264.2448 or Also, you can be on the “green thumbs” email list by emailing your request to the address above.

“Before you buy or use an insecticide product, first read the label, and strictly follow label recommendations. Mention of trade names or commercial products in this article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute endorsement by Louisiana State University AgCenter.”

“This work has been supported, in part, by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Renewable Resources Extension Act Award, Accession Number 1011417.”

10/25/2021 8:55:21 PM
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