Native to the hot, humid coastal lowland forests of  India, Sri Lanka, and Indonesia, this evergreen tree is a member of the family Ebenaceae that also includes persimmon.  The  tree grows 65-80′ tall and has gray to black bark that is fissured and peeling.  The elliptical to obvate, medium green leaves are 2.5-6″ long and have smooth margins and satiny texture.  Greenish-yellow, 4-lobed, fragrant male and female flowers appear hidden by the foliage and on different plants in spring.  The male flowers are in umbellate clusters of 3-16 while the female flowers are solitary.  The round fruit is .8″  across, has a rusty brown velvety skin, and contains 3-8 black seeds.  Although edible the fruit is not very tasty.  The sapwood is soft, yellowish gray and of no commercial value.   The heartwood, however,  is black, dense, smooth and has been highly valued since ancient Egyptian times 4500 years ago for furniture as well as decorative items including statuary.  The wood is currently used mostly for small items such as crucifixes and parts of musical instruments.  The slow growth of the ebony tree makes it a good subject for bonsai.  Ebony trees do not tolerate shade, salt spray, drought, or frost so are not suitable for growing outdoors in most of the US but can be grown in a pot and taken indoors during the cold months of the year.   The genus name, Diospyros, is from the Greek words dios meaning divine and pyros meaning wheat.  The specific epithet, ebenum, is the Latin word meaning ebony black.  

Type: Evergreen tree

Outstanding Feature: Heartwood

Form: Rounded when young, spreading with age

Growth Rate: Slow

Bloom: Small greenish-yellow male and female flowers on different trees in spring

Size: 65-80′ H

Light:Full sun

Soil: Average, moist, well-drined

Hardiness: Zones 10-11

Care: Low maintenance

Pests and Diseases: None of signficance

Propagation: Fresh seed

Photo Credit: Wikipedia




By Karen