Stipple engraving showing leaves and fruit of American persimmon (Diospyros virginiana), a tree in the family Ebenaceae native to North America. This tree is described as follows by the author:
This tree belongs to the class of vegetables whose sexes are confined to different stocks. Both the barren and fertile flowers are greenish, and not strikingly apparent. The ripe fruit is about as large as the thumb, of a reddish complexion, round, fleshy, and furnished with six or eight semi-oval stones slightly swollen at the sides and of a dark purple color. It is not eatable till it has felt the first frost, by which the skin is shrivelled, and the pulp, which before was hard and extremely harsh to the taste, is softened and rendered palatable.
Translation by Augustus Lucas Hillhouse.
Our attibution of this illustration to Henri-Joseph Redouté is little more than a wild guess. The initials missing from the artist’s name, it could just as plausibly be his more famous brother Pierre-Joseph, who also collaborated to this book. Or the two might have worked together on this particular plate.