ST. LOUIS – Our cold snap this week is a strong reminder that winter is coming. One fruit, native to Missouri, has a history of helping predict how rough the season will be: the persimmon.

Persimmon trees can be found at the Missouri Botanical Garden, in Tower Grove Park, and other city and state parks around the region. The seeds of the fruit has been helping people predict the weather for hundreds of years.

People may be more familiar with the larger persimmon fruit found in the grocery store, which is an Asian variety.

“The persimmon has another species that is native to North America and even here to Missouri and these are much smaller fruits,” said Dr. Emily Warschefsky, an associate scientist at the Missouri Botanical Garden.

These small orange fruits have a big job to do every fall. Folklore says a persimmon seed will predict a winter’s severity.

“You would want a local persimmon because it is from the area, and it will predict the forecast for that specific region,” Warschefsky said.

After the fruit gets a bit soft, almost mushy, find the seed inside, carefully cut it open, and look at the shape of the kernel inside.

“You’ll actually see a shape inside. That’s actually the baby leaf inside that would become the first leaf of the tree if it were to be planted,” Warschefsky said.

Tradition says if the kernel is spoon-shaped, expect plenty of snow to shovel. Knife-shaped, expect frigid, cutting winds. And fork-shaped? Plan for a mild winter.

Warschefsky cut open a persimmon on Wednesday and found a couple of knife-shapes in the seeds. There were also several spoon-shapes. So, it’s probably going to be a snowy winter from the persimmon at the Missouri Botanical Garden. The tasty fruit makes great breads and puddings.

“The flavor ranges from something like an orange freeze pop, almost a fake orange flavor. And when the fruit matures, it gets more of a brown sugar flavor to it,” Warschefsky said.

Predicting with a persimmon seed is a fun, unscientific way to do a winter forecast. We’ll combine a little folklore and a lot of science when FOX 2’s Chief Meteorologist Glenn Zimmerman shares his winter outlook on Nov. 17, 2022.