This coming winter in the Ozarks is going to be colder than average with an average snowfall. Well, at least according to persimmon seeds.
“It’s a cherished bit of Ozarks folklore that the shape of the tiny seedling inside a persimmon seed can predict conditions in the upcoming winter,” said Patrick Byers, horticulture specialist, University of Missouri Extension. “It is not a research-based way to forecast the weather but once a year it is a fun tongue-in-check project and a great way to educate people about this unique native Ozark fruit tree.”
According to Ozarks folklore, a spoon shape on the seed indicates above average snowfall, a knife shape signals colder than normal temperatures and a fork shape means warmer than average temperatures.
For this year’s weather forecast, Byers collected fruit from persimmon trees in Lawrence, Stone, Wright and Webster counties. He extracted the seeds from the fruit and then randomly selected 15 seeds from each tree.
“I cracked open the seeds, observed the seedlings and then added up the data,” said Byers.
Byers found 21 percent of the seeds had a knife shape, 29 percent had a fork shape and 50 percent had a spoon shape.
“Looks like Ozarkers better dust off those snow shovels and get a warm coat,” said Byers. “At least this data from persimmon seeds suggest average snowfall this year with colder than normal winter temperatures.”
Persimmons grow on a tree and look like an orange tomato. An unripe fruit can quickly pucker the lips of a person with its bitter taste. Native Americans taught early settlers that the fruit should be left on the trees well into October when it becomes ripe enough to eat.
Once ripe, persimmons don’t keep well. They should be eaten right away or refrigerated for no more than a day or two. To freeze persimmons, simply spoon out the flesh of each one as it ripens, and store it in the freezer in an airtight container. When you have enough, use persimmons to make bread, muffins, cookies, cakes and pudding.
For more information on persimmons, or answers to your specific lawn and garden questions, contact Patrick Byers, horticulture specialist, University of Missouri Extension or the Greene County Master Gardener Hotline at (417) 881-8909. Information can also be found on the Greene County Extension website at http://extension.missouri.edu/greene.
OZARK PERSIMMONS – The persimmon is a common native tree in the Ozarks. It grows in rocky, dry open woods, edges of woods, glades, prairies, old fields, thickets, bottomland woods and valleys along streams.
WEATHER FORECAST – Persimmon seeds with fork, spoon and knife shapes inside.