Commercial Timbers

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H. G. Richter and M. J. Dallwitz

Diospyros spp. (Schwarze Ebenhölzer, black ebony - Afrika, Madagaskar)

Nomenclature etc. EBENACEAE. Afrika: Diospyros crassiflora, etc.; Madagaskar: D. perrieri, etc. Trade and local names: African ebony (GB, trade); afrikanisches Ebenholz (DE); ebène d'Afrique (FR, BE); ébano (PT, ES); abokpo, kanran, nyareti, osibin (NG); mevini, mavini, ndou (CM); evila (GA); ngoubou, bingo (CD). D. perrieri: Madagaskar Ebenholz (DE); hazozoby, lepinga (MG), mapingo (RE). Not protected under CITES regulations.

Tree. Geographic distribution: tropical Africa to Madagascar & other islands.

General. Heartwood basically purple, without streaks. Sapwood colour distinct from heartwood colour. Density 0.9–1.05 g/cm³.

Vessels. Wood diffuse-porous. Vessels in multiples, commonly short (2–3 vessels) radial rows or radial rows of 4 or more. Average tangential vessel diameter 80–120 µm. Average number of vessels/mm² 8–14. Perforation plates simple. Intervessel pits alternate, average diameter (vertical) 3–5 µm. Vessel-ray pits with distinct borders, similar to intervessel pits. Other deposits in heartwood vessels present (black, some reddish-brown).

Tracheids and fibres. Fibres very thick-walled. Fibre pits common in both radial and tangential walls, distinctly bordered.

Axial parenchyma. Axial parenchyma banded. Axial parenchyma bands reticulate, fine, up to three cells wide. Bands predominantly uniseriate, some possibly indicating growth boundaries (marginal?). Axial parenchyma apotracheal, or paratracheal. Apotracheal axial parenchyma diffuse-in-aggregates. Paratracheal axial parenchyma scanty, or vasicentric. Axial parenchyma as strands. Average number of cells per axial parenchyma strand 4–8.

Rays. Rays 15–20 per tangential mm, exclusively uniseriate. Rays composed of two or more cell types (heterocellular). Heterocellular rays with square and upright cells restricted to marginal rows, mostly 1 marginal row of upright or square cells to with more than 4 marginal rows of upright or square cells. Sporadically also biseriate rays.

Storied structures. Storied structure absent.

Mineral inclusions. Crystals present, prismatic, located in axial parenchyma cells. Crystal-containing axial parenchyma cells chambered. Number of crystals per cell or chamber one. Silica not observed.

Illustrations. • Macro images. Diospyros sp. (black). Transverse. Transverse. • Transverse section. Diospyros sp. • Tangential section. Diospyros sp. • Radial section. Diospyros sp. • Crystals in axial parenchyma. Diospyros crassiflora. Prismatic crystals exclusively in axial parenchyma.


The interactive key allows access to the character list, illustrations, full and partial descriptions, diagnostic descriptions, differences and similarities between taxa, lists of taxa exhibiting specified attributes, summaries of attributes within groups of taxa, and geographical distribution.

Cite this publication as: ‘Richter, H.G., and Dallwitz, M.J. 2000 onwards. Commercial timbers: descriptions, illustrations, identification, and information retrieval. In English, French, German, Portuguese, and Spanish. Version: 25th June 2009. http://delta-intkey.com’.

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