Diospyros texana – Texas persimmon revisited OR still searching for black

30 Jul

To be specific I am working with Diospyros texana Texas persimmon, Mexican persimmon, Black persimmon, Chapote, Chapote prieto member of the Ebenaceae (Ebony Family)

This is a different species from the eastern persimmon used in Japan, Korea or other Southeast Asian countries which is known as the kaki. This fruit has a long tradition of being used as a cloth dye for protective measures. Here is a great article on that cultural use, also known as galot.

But I digress, I am trying to use the same techniques with our Texas persimmon, same family, most definitely a different species. I am glad to be corrected by a botanist.

So far I’ve experimented with both the green and the ripe persimmon. I’ve experimented with increasing the PH, simmering the fruit and also aging the fruit. At this point it seems that the green fruit gives one a yellow toned color and the ripe fruit pushes towards golden brown. So far I have a 1 year old green vintage which I’ve tested with one dip. More to come on that one. I need to test with iron to see how that pushes towards black but last year’s experiment just gave me a golden brown. I am certainly getting a good variety of yellow, gold and amber colors. All will make great undertones for over dyeing. I just need to decide what to over dye them with….agarita, Japanese indigo, madder root, or lichen?

One can look at these colors for hours and convince oneself that these are yellow, but if one compares these skeins to the colors produces by cota, agarita and weld one can see how these persimmon colors are all heavily impacted by their tannin content. In other words, there are some beautiful browns, some with a yellow undertone but the brown (tannin) definitely shows.

Here are some other parts of the process:

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11 Responses to “Diospyros texana – Texas persimmon revisited OR still searching for black”

  1. Leena July 31, 2012 at 2:00 pm #

    Very interesting, I love the hot simmer color and the one with iron.


    • debmcclintock July 31, 2012 at 3:13 pm #

      Thanks Leena, this is the first time I’ve had enough persimmon to experiment with the simmer process…there will be more. Once it cools down. In the meantime, everything is fermenting away in its jar.


  2. neki rivera August 1, 2012 at 12:00 pm #

    have you tried submitting the yarns to uv rays exposure?
    i have 5-6 silk skeins outside and it’s fascinating to see how the color has changed.


    • debmcclintock August 1, 2012 at 12:03 pm #

      Yes, they darken nicely when wet. I need to go back and see if I hang them out dry if the darkening continues.


  3. Lynn D August 2, 2012 at 3:13 am #

    Thank you for the great photos. The silvery skien is so pretty. Didnt know the persimmons were so small.
    Recall a book written on dye plants from Texas published several years ago.
    Wonder how the scarlet color was made in that article you linked to.
    Usually iron, or rust water is used to create blacks, dull purples or ….
    Lynn D


    • debmcclintock August 2, 2012 at 3:27 am #

      Thank you Lynn, I think the book you are referring to is Tull’s book. It mentions the persimmon but no specific recipes. The red in the link mentioned is from a different persimmon species. I am trying to see if our species will give a red. No luck so far! Always hopeful.


  4. Tsu Dho Nimh (@TsuDhoNimh) May 7, 2018 at 2:03 pm #

    The Navajo start with natural black or dark brown wool, then dye it with a mix of sumac, ocher fried/cooked in pinyon pitch (reduces the iron in the ocher to make a black pigment when mixed with the tannin in the sumac?

    You might find this file interesting


  5. wscottbailey September 1, 2020 at 6:10 pm #

    Tangentially, I bought some finely ground gaboon ebony sawdust on eBay. Soaked in water; the liquid immediately began to turn very dark almost opaque. In dyeing it gave the usual tannin brown.


    • debmcclintock September 1, 2020 at 6:15 pm #

      I know ebony from Laos, they get very good blacks on silk from it. I am still trying to coax it out of our local Diospyros Texana since I have over 40+ fruit producing trees on our property.



  1. Persimmon Recap (Diospyros texana) | debmcclintock - July 20, 2022

    […] Once you squash and expose to a lot of air the oxidation kicks in and the brew starts to go gold rather than yellow.   I also explored working with ripe persimmons but the results were underwhelming for me. https://debmcclintock.me/2012/07/30/persimmon-revisited-or-still-searching-for-black/ […]


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