One of my best memories growing up was going on hikes near our home in the hills of Kentucky (Siloam Bottoms near the Newberry Estate) and picking persimmons to eat along the way.
The Persimmon is native throughout Kentucky in dry woodland settings. The fruit is an important wildlife food and is edible. The fruit is edible, but it is not ripe until the skin is wrinkled. Ripe persimmons are said to taste a great deal like dates. They are used to make cakes, puddings and beverages. Native Americans used the fruits to make bread, and also dried them. Fruit is an important wildlife food. However, the fruit can present a litter problem in the landscape. It is slimy, so when used in the city the tree should be planted where fruit will not fall on sidewalks, where it can cause people to fall. The plant is dioecious, so a male (fruitless) tree would be a much more acceptable landscape plant than the female.
Immature fruits contain a large amount of tannin and are astringent. They have been used to make tea for use in gargling for sore throats. The tea was also used to treat warts, cancers, heartburn, diarrhea and stomach aches.
Cooking oil, with a flavor like that of peanut oil, can be extracted from the seeds. Confederate soldiers boiled persimmon seeds as a coffee substitute during the Civil War.
Persimmon wood is very hard and nearly black. It is used to make golf club heads, billiard cues and parquet flooring.