Like children, all plants are beautiful to someone. But here are some important guidelines as to what’s commonly considered “ornamental:”
• Shiny, glossy leaves with a rich-green or unusual foliage color.
• Highly-textured bark on the trunk.
• With deciduous plants, a dramatic fall color.
• Showy, colorful or unusual flowers.
• A good form to the foliage and well-behaved growth.
• Fruit brightly-colored or with a complex blush.
• Interesting or unusually-shaped fruit.
Still, practicality should always be a major concern in the food garden. Many subtropical plants are considered ornamental edibles; but if seasonal covering, heaters, complex pest-control or hand-pollination are required to get a good crop, the practical limitations outweigh the harvest’s value.
Oriental Persimmon (Diospyros kaki) Zones 5-10; hardy to -10o F.
Like the American persimmon; the Oriental trees have an attractive form, well-defined branch pattern and excellent fall color. The Oriental fruit is five times larger than the American varieties. Oriental trees have large, glossy, nearly heart-shaped leaves of an intense green uncommon on many deciduous fruit trees. The fall leaf-color ranges from clear golden-yellow to pure orange to rusty red, and the full range of color can occur on one tree. The bright orange-red fruits hang on long past leaf-fall and adorn the tree well into the winter. If planted in the right climate, persimmon trees are very self-reliant. The tree is seldom attacked by pest or disease.
These ornamental edibles can contribute an aesthetic focal point to your garden and a gastronomical delight to your palate—a win-win situation. Bon appetite!