Persimmon seeds predict the weather

Published 12:00 am Friday, November 2, 2012

Folklore says the upcoming winter weather can be predicted by studying persimmon seeds.
Persimmon trees grow to be 50-60 feet tall when mature. Persimmon wood is extremely hard and often used in making golf clubs.
Persimmon trees are dioecious, or of two different sexes. There are male trees and female trees. Both are needed for successful pollination, but only female trees have fruit.
The common American persimmon produces fruit which is inedible until fully ripe — generally after the first frost. Usually persimmons are made into a pudding or pie. However, they can be eaten raw and are quite good.
To make weather predictions, extract the seeds out of the persimmons. Cut the seeds in half by holding the seeds on edge and slicing through them the thin way. Then examine the inner cotyledon shapes for their winter prediction.
The shape that shows up the most inside each seed will indicate what kind of winter to expect. The three shapes resemble three eating utensils. A knife shape means there will be a cold, icy winter. A spoon shape indicates there will be plenty of snow to shovel. And a fork shape predicts a mild winter.
Having grown up outside of Caldwell County, I had never heard of this folklore prediction until a few years ago. In fact, where I grew up, it is a little too cold for persimmon trees to grow.
However, I am interested to know if persimmon seeds are an accurate way to predict winter weather as folklore suggests. So I gathered some persimmons and opened the seeds.
I discovered that 84 percent of the seeds showed the spoon shape, 12 percent showed the knife shape and 4 percent showed the shape of a fork.
According to the folklore prediction, we can expect to shovel some good amounts of snow this winter.
I also checked the 2013 Farmers’ Almanac, which has this prediction for the Southeast region: “This winter will hold temperatures below normal with near or above normal snowfall.”
To further back up this prediction, the Banner Elk Woolly Worm Race winner, Lickety Split, predicts a colder, snowier first half of winter as well. Lickety’s more numerous and thicker black bands tell the chilly story.
I don’t know whether you believe these wives tales or not, but it is fun to postulate about the upcoming winter.
With all “signs” pointing toward cold and snow, I thought I’d verify these predictions with the N.C. State University State Climate Office ( According to the best science, for the next three months we are equally likely to have above normal temperatures and precipitation as we are to have below normal temperatures and precipitation.
Although I like science and have studied science my entire life, climatology is a letdown when compared to the traditional weather predicting folklore.
I hope the next time you see a persimmon tree you will try your hand at predicting the winter. I was really surprised about the cotyledons forming these three shapes: the knife, fork and spoon.
If folklore is correct, you better keep your big coat and your snow shovel handy.
If you have questions on this theory or more weather predicting folklore, I’d love to hear about it.

Seth Hamilton Nagy is the County Extension Director with Cooperative Extension in Caldwell County.
Call 828-757-1290.