AREA -- This winter in the Ozarks is going to be warmer than average with an above average snow fall. Well, at least according to persimmon seeds.
"It's a cherished bit of Ozark folklore that the shape of a tiny seedling inside a persimmon seed predict conditions in the upcoming winter," said Patrick Byers, a horticulture specialist, with the University of Missouri Extension.
According to Ozarks folklore, a spoon shape in the seed indicates above average snowfall, a knife shape signals colder than normal temperatures and a fork shape means warmer than average temperatures.
For this year's weather forecast, Byers collected 10 fruit from persimmon trees in Mansfield, Cedar Gap, Fordland and Mount Vernon, Mo. He extracted the seeds from the fruit and then randomly selected 10 seeds from each tree.
"I cracked open the seeds, observed the seedlings and then added up the data," he said.
Byers found that 7.5 percent of the seeds had a knife shape, 30 percent had a fork shape and 62.5 percent had a spoon shape.
"Looks like Ozarkers better dust off those snow shovels," said Byers. "At least this data from persimmon seeds suggest a warmer than average winter with above average snow fall."
Persimmons grow on a tree and look like an orange tomato. An unripe fruit can quickly pucker the lips of a person with its bitter taste. Native Americans taught early settlers that the fruit should be left on the trees well into October when it becomes ripe enough to eat.
Once ripe, persimmons don't keep well. They should be eaten right away or refrigerated for no more than a day or two. When people freeze persimmons, they simply spoon out the flesh of each one as it ripens and store in the freezer in an airtight container. When a person has enough, persimmons, they are often used to make bread, muffins, cookies, cakes and pudding.