Sharon fruits are a rare variety of persimmon, which have been bred to have no pit, bitter tannins or seeds. The trees are part of the ebony family and feature very hard wood that is occasionally used to make speciality items. Trees typically bear fruit after about seven years from planting and grow in temperate climates. In the fall, they are an attractive garden feature, turning orange, red and purple before the leaves drop.
Sharon fruit trees tolerate temperatures as low as minus 18 degrees Celsius, but do not withstand extremely hot summers. Trees should be planted in areas protected from cold winds and frost, in full sun. These trees need fertile, well-draining soil. Loamy types of soil are best, and they will tolerate claylike soil as long as drainage is adequate, but sandy soils are unsuitable for this type of tree. Sharon fruit trees grow to 26 feet tall and 16 feet wide.
Sharon fruit trees prefer soil pH of 6 to 6.5, so lime amendment may be needed for extremely acidic soils. Plenty of compost should be mixed in when planting, to improve drainage and fertility. For the first year, trees need to be supplied with consistent watering; after they are established they should receive plenty of watering during dry periods to supplement rainfall. A balanced fertiliser should be applied in the spring when new shoots emerge.
Pruning is effective in late winter when trees are dormant. Pruning involves removing dead wood, weak and shaded branches. Prune to reduce the number of stems and train the tree into three to five main limbs, beginning about 3 feet from the ground. Cutting interior branches as needed helps maintain an open form, which allows air circulation and sun to reach fruit on the inner branches.
Sharon fruits are named for the Sharon Valley in Israel where they were originally cultivated. These fruits can be eaten either when soft and ripe, or when unripe and hard, like an apple, because the slightly toxic tannins, pit, and seeds have been bred out of the fruits. Sharon fruits have red-orange skin and are the size of a plump tomato. The flesh has a texture similar to an apricot, with a sweet, tangy flavour. Sharon fruits are high in vitamin A, vitamin C and dietary fibre.