Diospyros assimilis Bedd.
Diospyros ebenaster Retz.
Diospyros glaberrrima Rottb.
Diospyros laurifolia A.Rich.
Diospyros melanoxylon Willd.
Diospyros membranacea A.DC.
Diospyros reticulata timoriana A.DC.
Diospyros timoriana (A.DC.) Miq.
Common Name: Ebony
Ebony is a slow-growing, medium-sized, evergreen tree with a dense, gloomy crown; it can grow up to 30 metres tall. The straight bole can be 90cm in diameter, with buttresses that are up to 2 metres high[
A famous timber tree, valued for its black wood for thousands of years[
]. This species is said to produce the best commercial black ebony[
]. It is mainly exported to China for furniture and to Europe as fancy wood[
]. This is one of 33 species named as being a suitable Hongmu (red wood) timber, used for producing high quality Chinese furniture following traditions from the Ming and Quing dynasty[
]. The tree is cultivated in plantations as a timber crop and is also grown as a shade tree[
The tree is heavily exploited in the wild. It has been renowned since ancient times for its black wood and it is still regarded as the best commercial black ebony. The plant is classified as 'Data Deficient' in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species(2011)[
The fruits are used as a fish poison[
E. Asia - India, Sri Lanka.
Humid, coastal and lowland forests[
]. An understorey tree of dry evergreen forests[
|Conservation Status||Data Deficient
|Other Uses Rating||
|Cultivation Status||Cultivated, Wild
A plant of comparatively dry areas in the tropics[
Prefers a well-drained soil containing clay[
A slow-growing tree[
We have seen no individual confirmation for this species, but in general Diospyros species are dioecious and require both male and female forms to be grown if fruit and seed are required[
Fruit - raw. Gummy and astringent]303]. The edible fruits are eaten only in times of famine[
The edible fruits have medicinal properties as attenuant and lithontripic[
The pounded bark and leaves are employed as a blistering plaster[
Very promising as shade tree in cardamom (Elettaria cardamomum) plantations[
The heartwood is very black; it is clearly demarcated from the light yellowish grey sapwood that is often streaked with black. The texture is very fine, close and even; the grain straight. The wood is very hard, heavy, very durable, being resistant to insect attack and fungi. The wood is difficult to season and work by hand, it takes a high glossy finish. It is mainly exported to China for furniture and to Europe as fancy wood. It finds use in sports goods, musical and mathematical instruments, ornamental carvings, piano keys, chess pieces, rulers, the backs of brushes, stands for ornaments and turnery[
We do not have any more specific information for this species. However, though varying widely in the relative proportion and the colouring of sapwood and heartwood, all the woods of the genus Diospyros are practically indistinguishable as regards their structure, as described below:-[
Whether or not a given species produces heartwood depends largely on the size the tree has attained, but evidently also on other conditions, as there is a wide variation in the relative amounts of sapwood and heartwood even in individuals of the same species. When produced, the heartwood can be black with rosy, yellowish, brownish, or ashy streaks, sometimes it is nearly or totally black; it is generally sharply demarcated from the thin to very wide band of whitish, yellowish, or red sapwood. The texture is fine, smooth and (especially in the heartwood) very dense; the grain is generally very straight. The wood is hard to very hard; heavy to very heavy; the sapwood is tough and flexible whilst the heartwood is brittle; the heartwood is very durable, the sapwood moderately so. It is difficult to season well, logs almost invariably checking in several directions from the heart outward, while sawn lumber must be stacked carefully and weighted to prevent warping; once thoroughly dried, however, it becomes very stable. Its density makes it difficult to work, but it takes a beautiful surface under sharp tools[
Small trees containing little or no heartwood are used locally for posts, beams, joists, rafters, window sills, parts of agricultural implements, etc.; also, in lumbering, small poles are used for skids on account of their hardness, toughness and smooth wearing qualities. The heartwood (or sometimes sap and heart together) is used for scabbards, canes, hilts, tool handles, gunstocks, saw frames, etc.; it is a favorite for musical instruments, especially finger boards and keys of guitars; furniture, cabinetwork, inlaying; paper weights, inkstands and similar desk supplies; the sapwood, which is almost as hard as the heartwood and very much tougher, is an excellent material for T-squares and other drawing instruments, for shuttles, bobbins, spindles, golf-club heads and shafts, axe, pick, and hammer handles, etc[
Seed - it has a very short viability and so should be sown as soon as possible[
]. The flesh should be removed since this contains germination inhibitors[
]. Sow the seed in a shady position in a nursery seedbed. The sowing media for ebony uses soil and fine sand at the ratio 3:1. The seed is planted horizontally or vertically with
the radicle end down, with a sowing depth of 1 - 1½ times the thickness of seed. Distance between the seeds is 3 - 5cm. Seeds are very sensitive to desiccation during germination and early growth, so must be regularly watered at this time[
]. Normally the seed will germinate after one week. In one trial, fresh seed, sown one day after collection, showed 85% germination rate within 17 - 65 days[
As a rule fresh seeds have a high percentage of fertility. The seedlings develop long taproots at an early stage, often before any appreciable elongation of the shoot takes place. The growth of the seedling is decidedly slow [