Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center
Northeast Wetland Flora
Field Office Guide to Plant Species
Diospyros virginiana L.
- Family: Ebony (Ebenaceae)
- Flowering: April-May
- Field Marks: This species has alternate toothless leaves with a distinct pattern of dark, net
venation visible on its paler lower leaf surfaces. The orange fruits may be as much as 2
inches in diameter.
- Habitat: Dry woods, rich bottomland woods, edge of fields, fence rows.
- Habit: Medium tree up to 50 or more feet tall; trunk diameter up to 1 foot or more; crown broad and rounded or flattened.
- Bark: Dark gray to black, broken into squarish plates at maturity.
- Twigs: Slender, brown, smooth or hairy, usually with lenticels; leaf scars alternate; bundle trace 1; buds red-brown to black, triangular, up to 1/8 inch long.
- Leaves: Alternate, simple, elliptic to oval, pointed at the tip, tapering or rounded at the base, up to 5 inches long, about half as broad, without teeth, dark green above, paler beneath with a distinct pattern of black net venation, smooth; leaf stalks up to 1 inch long.
- Flowers: Male and female usually borne on separate trees, the male in clusters of 2-3, up to 1/2 inch long, the female solitary, 1/2-3/4 inch long.
- Sepals: 4, united at base, green.
- Petals: 4, united at base, pale yellow, rather thick.
- Stamens: 8-16.
- Pistils: Ovary superior; styles 4.
- Fruits: Fleshy, with orange pulp, spherical to flattened-spherical, but with the greenish sepals persistent at one end, yelloworange to orange, up to 2 inches in diameter, enclosing few, large, flat, light brown seeds.
- Notes: The fruits, ripening after frost, are edible to humans, and are also eaten by deer, foxes, raccoons, skunks, many other mammals, and some birds.
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