Fruit and Vegetables

Kaki - Diospyros kaki

I khaki

Plant native to Japan and the mountainous regions of China, arrived in Europe in the second half of the nineteenth century and has been present in Italy for over a century. The khaki is a tree that can reach up to 12 meters in height, has a globose crown, the leaves are oval-shaped with the upper glossy page. It produces large, orange-colored spherical fruits that are not normally eaten as soon as they are picked, in fact, after the harvest that takes place in November when all the leaves have fallen, to accelerate the maturation process, it is used to place them in boxes with some ripe apples. Khaki has a very high biological value, the pulp contains many vitamins and proteins and is rich in sugars. Khaki does not have any particular soil requirements, but prefers fresh and deep ones and does not like those that are limy and too moist. It lives well in areas with a warm and temperate climate, but it also adapts to colder climates, where, though, temperatures too low (-7 °, -10 °) can damage the plant, especially the young plants, which are very sensitive to low temperatures, in which case it is necessary to protect them, perhaps by wrapping the stem with bundles of straw.
Khaki (also called dišspero) is a tree belonging to the Ebanaceae family and is therefore a close relative of ebony. It is widely cultivated in our country both for ornamental purposes and for the sweet and very fleshy fruits whose color ranges from yellow to orange-red and brown. Italy is also, along with Spain, one of the largest European producers and many interesting cultivars are also available in our country.
The diospyros kaki (whose name derives from the Greek and means fire of the gods) is also a very interesting vegetable for some of its peculiar characteristics that we will illustrate.


The best exposure is always full sun. Only in this way we will achieve a (as much as possible) rapid growth and good fruiting. If we live in a cold area it is good practice to place the tree near a wall to the south. The heat accumulated during the day and released in the night will help the plant to overcome the most severe periods.

Height at maturity From 5 to 10 meters, but also many more, in a favorable climate
Width at maturity Up to 8 meters
Cultivation simple
Maintenance Medium-low
It needs water Medium-high
Growth slow
Rusticitа Average, also depending on the variety and the rootstock
Exposure Full sun
Fruiting age About 8 years
Fruiting vegetation On new branches
Ground Adaptable, but well-drained. No saline soils


The khaki was initially considered rather sensitive to cold and was implanted only in the Center-South. Today the plant is routinely grafted onto Diospyros virginiana, originating from North America and very resistant to low temperatures. In general, therefore, we can say that it adapts to living almost all over the Italian territory, even at rather high altitudes (even 800 meters). It can be said that it does not particularly fear temperatures down to -15 ° C, but it is not uncommon to bear even up to -18 °. The only recommendation is to protect young and recently planted individuals with abundant mulching and to cover the trunk with insulating material (sheets, blankets, etc.) for at least the first two or three years.


It adapts to almost all soils, except for those that are exaggeratedly compact and lacking good drainage. In that case, let's commit ourselves working in depth and incorporating the organic soil improver. A thick layer of gravel on the bottom will only help.
Substrates rich in sodium and boron are also to be avoided. It is therefore not a good subject to put on the front line on the coast.

In full wind

Khaki is a tree typically full wind (natural growth). It is possible to form the crown on a medium stem at about 120 cm, or with a tall stem at about 180-200 cm.
Starting from a sucker of a year just planted, you will have to immediately cut it to the desired height, after which, the following year, at least three branches will be preserved which will have to be shortened to 20-25 cm from the starting point, these will produce a turn other branches that will also be shortened. In doing so, the trunk will be strengthened and the branches that will grow later will be sufficient to form the final crown. Afterwards only internal thinning of the foliage and elimination of dry or damaged branches will be done.

Persimmon flowers and fruits

It is generally a dioecious tree. This means that female and male flowers are found on different individuals. The cultivars obtained for fruit production, however, are often bearers of flowers of both genders and, in any case, the feminine flowers are able to bear fruit even without being fertilized (in this case there will be no seeds inside, but at the time of the harvest the berry will be unattractive). Flowering occurs at the end of spring, on new branches. The diameter is about 3 cm and the petals are cream-white.
The fruits are berries with a diameter of 6-12 cm. Maturation takes place around October-November. Generally, at the time of harvest, they are not very palatable due to the high percentage of tannins present in the pulp. The problem can be overcome by waiting for the complete maturation (placing them for example in a bag with apples, which, releasing ethylene, stimulate this process). Market demands, however, have stimulated research and today cultivars are available that are capable of supplying appreciable and sweet fruits immediately.


The planting can be done in autumn or spring. The second option is to be preferred if you live in areas characterized by cold winters. Proceed by digging a hole that is 50 cm wide and deep at the bottom of which is a well decomposed soil improver. We insert the bread of earth and, at the same time, a guardian, in depth. We cover, avoiding that the collar is below the ground level. We tie the specimen to the guardian in several places.


During the first few years of planting (usually three or four) interventions must be fairly frequent. Generally it irrigates abundantly every three to four weeks, in the absence of precipitation, also depending on our climatic conditions.
Once the sample is freed, interventions may also be omitted, unless long periods of drought occur. We distribute water in case the leaves appear loose and hanging. However, we always monitor during the growth period, when the demand for water is greatest.

History and origins of khaki

The khaki is an endemic tree of China, although it is known and cultivated throughout Southeast Asia since ancient times. It is in fact widespread also in Japan and Korea. However, the genus Diospyros contains more than 500 species of trees with mostly persistent leaves, also coming from other areas of the same continent, but some also from North America.
In general it can be described as a medium-sized tree (from 6 to 12 meters high as an adult). Its wood is very hard and the bark is thick and deeply fissured. The leaves are oblong to ovate, with a smooth edge, a nice medium green on the upper page, lighter and more velvety on the lower one. They are semi-persistent: where winters are harsh they fall to the ground.
The khaki originates from China, where, around the fourteenth century, it began to grow as a fruit-bearing crop. The first description by a European was by an Italian missionary, Matteo Ricci, who arrived in those areas in the early 1600s. The first specimens arrived in Europe only in the mid-1700s, where the genus spread quickly, especially in the Mediterranean basin.


Generally occurs by grafting on Diospyros virginiana or on Diospyros lotus. The former is highly valued for its frost resistance. However, it is very common that, after about 15 years, it takes over by forcing the whole set to be replaced.
In our country the second is the most used, even if it is not very similar to the most sought-after varieties (the non-astringent ones) which are instead micropropagated (adapting well but only in warm climates).


The franc is generally used as the main rootstock of the khaki, while some varieties are beginning to be used, such as the diospyros lotus which gives the plants good resistance to cold and a lower sensitivity to radical cancer.


It has no particular needs, it is sufficient to intervene also with abundant organic fertilizers, mature manure and manure, during the end of winter.
Especially during the first few years, to stimulate good and deep rooting, khaki requires large amounts of phosphorus. The ideal is to distribute a suitable fertilizer (bone meal or a synthetic product) in mid-autumn. It is in fact during the cold season that the plants concentrate on the growth of the hypogeum apparatus.
At the arrival of spring we can also distribute a few handful of slow release fertilizer for fruit plants.

Pruning and forms of breeding:

It is extremely important to set the tree correctly from the early years. The most commonly used form is that of an upside-down vessel because it allows aerating the center of the sample and obtaining an excellent secondary branching. This is extremely important as the plant bears fruit on the branches produced in the year.
The correctly set plants can then also no longer be touched, except to eliminate dead or damaged branches.
The best time for this operation is the end of winter, making sure that the risk of frost is no longer encountered.


A good production begins to be around 6 years after planting.
The varieties with astringent fruits should possibly be harvested after a frost. This makes the pulp softer and tend to be sweeter. Unfortunately, however, it makes the fruit more delicate and transport becomes almost impossible.
If we want to harvest first we will have to wait at least a month before eating khaki. The maximum is obtained by putting the fruits upside down downwards closed in a paper bag. The proximity of an apple basket will facilitate and speed up the process, thanks to the ethylene released.
Non-astringent varieties can be eaten immediately. The specimens with seeds, however, will always be the sweetest and softest.


The ripe fruits are kept for a few days at the most, but they can be frozen whole. With this fruit it is possible to make excellent sorbets or jams.

Species and varieties

Among varieties and cultivars we can count more than 700 types of Chinese khaki. If, on the other hand, we also count species, we can reach over 2000 units.
The selections started in 1300 in China and continued in Japan and in modern times also in Europe.
Here are the most interesting and widespread:
The type species It is a tree that can reach 12 meters in height, with fruits up to 10 cm in diameter. Resists a maximum of -18 ° C.
Sharon produced mainly in Israel, with a very firm and sweet pulp
Fuyu large fruits with a flattened shape, sweet immediately. Suitable for warm regions
Jiro medium fruits, very sugary, suitable to be dried
Hana fuyu very large and non-astringent fruits. Tree rather resistant to cold, but not continuous production.
Gosho dark red fruit, tree of limited size, but needs pollination with other khaki.
Muscat large, seedless and rather early fruits. Very decorative due to the orange coloring the leaves take in autumn.

Kaki - Diospyros kaki: Diseases

The khaki is not particularly affected by animal parasites, but attacks of cochineals are possible which, if present in a massive way, can cause a general weakening of the plant. As regards diseases of fungal origin, there are possible manifestations of gray mold which can cause damage to the fruits, while the oidium can affect branches and leaves, especially if a climate with a high level of humidity persists.
  • Diospyros kaki

    In nature there are many different varieties of fruit trees, which are often placed in the garden, having space

    visit: diospyros kaki



Autumn Spring
Flowering Late spring-early summer
Collection From October to early December
Pruning End of winter