First posted on 10-30-2014
This coming winter in the Ozarks is going to be colder than average with a below average snowfall and a few warm spells. Well, at least according to persimmon seeds.
“It’s a cherished bit of Ozarks folklore that the shape of the seedling inside a persimmon seed can predict upcoming winter conditions,” 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, Newton, Webster and McDonald counties. He extracted the seeds from the fruit and then randomly selected 102 seeds.
“I cracked open the seeds, observed the seedlings and then added up the data,” said Byers.
In 2014, Byers found 18 percent of the seeds had a knife shape; 31 percent had a fork shape, and 51 percent had a spoon shape. Over the past five years of doing this same thing, Byers says the average has been 57 percent spoon shaped, 13.6 percent knife shaped and 28 percent fork shaped.
“Looks like Ozarkers better get a warm coat,” said Byers. “At least this data from persimmon seeds suggests below average snowfall this year some periods of warm 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, persimmons are often used 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. More information is available on the Greene County Extension website at http://extension.missouri.edu/greene.
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