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EBENACEAE

Field Guide to the Moist Forest Trees of Tanzania

Jon C. Lovett, Chris K. Ruffo, Roy E. Gereau & James R.D. Taplin
Illustrations by Line Sørensen & Jilly Lovett

EBENACEAE

Diospyros abyssinica (Hiern) F. White subsp. abyssinica
Syn. FTEA: NC.
Syn. TTCL: Maba abyssinica Hiern
Syn. other: NR.
Local names: Mdaa-mwitu (Sw), Nluhi (C).
Bole: Straight. Large/medium. To 35 m.
Bark: Dark grey/black. Finely fissured/rectangular loose scales.
Slash: Brown/yellow with a brown edge. Soft.
Leaf: Simple. Alternate.
Petiole: 0.4 – 0.8 cm. Round.
Lamina: Medium/small. 7 – 12 × 2.5 – 4 cm. Elliptic/lanceolate-elliptic. Cuneate. Acuminate. Entire. Glabrous.
Domatia: Absent.
Glands: Absent.
Stipules: Absent.
Thorns & Spines: Absent.
Flower: White/yellow, fragrant. Axillary. Dioecious.
Fruit: Yellow-green/black. Berry. 1.4 × 0.9 cm.
Ecology: Dry lowland, submontane and dry montane forests.
Distr: C, EA, N, LV. Tropical Africa.
Notes: NR.
Uses: The wood is used for timber, firewood, building poles, tool handles, mortars and spoons. The tree is used for shade.
Diospyros amaniensis Gürke
Syn. FTEA: NC.
Syn. TTCL: NC.
Syn. other: NR.
Local names: Kihambie (S).
Bole: Small/medium. To 20 m.
Bark: Brown/black.
Slash: Dark red with a black edge.
Leaf: Simple. Alternate.
Petiole: 1.5 cm.
Lamina: Medium. 9 – 28 × 3 – 11 cm. Oblong/lanceolate/elliptic. Cuneate. Obtuse/acuminate. Entire. Glabrous.
Domatia: NR.
Glands: NR.
Stipules: Absent.
Thorns & Spines: Absent.
Flower: White. Sweetly scented. Axillary/cauliflorous.
Fruit: Globose, 1.5 cm in diameter. Covered in brown/black hairs.
Ecology: Groundwater, lowland and montane forest.
Distr: EA, C. Southeast Kenya.
Notes: Normally less than 5 m tall with axillary flowers in lowland forest. However, a montane tall tree from the Udzungwa mountains and Malundwe Hill with cauliflorous flowers has also been included in this species in FTEA.
Uses: The wood is used for firewood, building poles and wooden spoons. The tree is used for shade. The bark is used as medicine for snake bites and yields red dye.
Diospyros bussei Gürke
Syn. FTEA: NC.
Syn. TTCL: D. decipiens Gürke
Syn. other: D. cornii Chiov.
Local names: Mkululu, Mkururu (Sw).
Bole: Medium. To 18 m.
Bark: Black/dark grey. Rough with deep longitudinal fissures.
Slash: NR.
Leaf: Simple. Alternate.
Petiole: 0.3 – 0.5 cm
Lamina: Small/medium. 2 – 8.5 × 1 – 3.7 cm. Elliptic/oblong. Rounded. Obtuse. Entire. Glabrous/slightly hairy beneath.
Domatia: NR.
Glands: NR.
Stipules: Absent.
Thorns & Spines: Absent.
Flower: Cream. Sweetly scented. Dioecious.
Fruit: Yellow. Globose/ovoid, 2 – 2.8 cm long, 1.7 – 2.5 cm wide.
Ecology: Dry lowland forest. Woodland. Thicket.
Distr: C. Tropical Eastern Africa.
Notes: NR.
Uses: The wood is hard and is used for firewood, poles, charcoal, withies and tool handles.
Diospyros capricornuta F. White
Syn. FTEA: NC.
Syn. TTCL: NR.
Syn. other: NR.
Local names: NR.
Bole: Branched. Small/medium. To 16 m.
Bark: Yellowish/reddish, striated.
Slash: NR.
Leaf: Simple. Alternate.
Petiole: 0.6 – 1.2 cm.
Lamina: Medium. 6.5 – 11 × 3 – 5 cm. Lanceolate/elliptic. Cuneate. Acuminate/sub-acuminate. Entire. Glabrous/hairy on midrib and beneath.
Domatia: NR.
Glands: NR.
Stipules: Absent.
Thorns & Spines: Absent.
Flower: Yellow-green. Axillary clusters. Dioecious.
Fruit: Not yet observed.
Ecology: Lowland forest.
Distr: C only.
Notes: Young leaves dark brown – pubescent beneath.
Uses: The wood is used for firewood, building poles, charcoal, tool handles and wooden spoons.
Diospyros consolatae Chiov.
Syn. FTEA: NC.
Syn. TTCL: D. vaughaniae Dunkley
Syn. other: NR.
Local names: Mkululu, Mkururu (Sw).
Bole: Branched. Heartwood sometimes black. Small. To 10 m.
Bark: Grey/black. Smooth.
Slash: NR.
Leaf: Simple. Alternate.
Petiole: 0.3 – 0.4 cm.
Lamina: Small. 2.5 – 10 × 1.2 – 6 cm. Elliptic/obovate. Cuneate. Acute/acuminate/emarginate. Entire. Glabrous.
Domatia: Absent.
Glands: Absent.
Stipules: Absent.
Thorns & Spines: Absent.
Flower: White/cream. Fragrant. Axillary. Dioecious.
Fruit: Yellow. Globose. Fruiting calyx lobed.
Ecology: Dry lowland forest. Woodland. Thicket.
Distr: C. Tropical Eastern Africa.
Notes: Sticky varnish-like exudate covering young leaves, flower buds and fruits.
Uses: The wood is used for firewood, building poles, charcoal, tool handles, wooden spoons, withies and pestles.
Diospyros greenwayi F. White
Syn. FTEA: NC.
Syn. TTCL: NR.
Syn. other: NR.
Local names: Mlala (D).
Bole: Branched. Small. To 15 m.
Bark: Grey. Smooth.
Slash: Yellow.
Leaf: Simple. Alternate.
Petiole: 0.8 cm.
Lamina: Medium. 3 – 11 (- 13.5) × 1 – 4.5 (- 5.8) cm. Elliptic/oblanceolate/oblong. Cuneate/rounded. Acute/acuminate. Entire. Glabrous/slightly hairy at the base of the midrib.
Domatia: NR.
Glands: NR.
Stipules: Absent.
Thorns & Spines: Absent.
Flower: Male flowers in axillary cymules. Female flowers ramiflorous. Dioecious.
Fruit: Subglobose. Persistent large calyx. Solitary or in clusters on older branchlets, 2 cm long, 1.7 cm wide.
Ecology: Riverine and dry lowland forest. Thicket.
Distr: C. Kenya.
Notes: NR.
Uses: The wood is hard and used for firewood, building poles, withies, tool handles and spoons.
Diospyros kabuyeana F. White
Syn. FTEA: NC.
Syn. TTCL: D. sp. nov.
Syn. other: D. brucei F. White, nom. nud.
Local names: NR.
Bole: Branched/fluted. Small/medium. To 25 m.
Bark: Dark brown/grey. Smooth/roughened by lenticels/flaking.
Slash: Pink/yellow with black edge.
Leaf: Simple. Alternate.
Petiole: 0.5 – 0.9 cm.
Lamina: Medium. 4.8 – 14 (- 15.8) × 1.7 – 7 cm. Lanceolate/oblanceolate. Cuneate/rounded. Asymmetric. Acute/acuminate. Entire. Glabrous/slightly hairy on nerves beneath.
Domatia: NR.
Glands: NR.
Stipules: Absent.
Thorns & Spines: Absent.
Flower: White/brown. Axillary fasicles. Dioecious.
Fruit: Yellow/white becoming bright orange. Subglobose 2.7 × 3 cm. Hairy.
Ecology: Riverine, lowland forest.
Distr: EA, C. Kenya. Mozambique.
Notes: NR.
Uses: The wood is used for firewood, building poles, withies and tool handles.
Diospyros mespiliformis Hochst. ex A.DC.
Syn. FTEA: NC.
Syn. TTCL: D. holtzii Gürke
Syn. other: NR.
Local names: Mgiriti (Sw), Mjongolo (P), Mkeakilindi (S), Mkoko (L), Msinde (N), Nzakala-we-mwana (Mt).
Bole: Straight/fluted. Large. To 30 m.
Bark: Dark brown/black. Scaling/rough with longitudinal fissures.
Slash: Pink with a black edge. Leaf: Simple. Alternate.
Petiole: 0.7 – 1 cm.
Lamina: Small/medium. 3.5 – 19 × 1.5 – 7.5 cm. Oblong/elliptic. Cuneate/rounded. Acute/obtuse. Entire. Glabrous/hairy.
Domatia: NR.
Glands: NR. Stipules: Absent.
Thorns & Spines: Absent.
Flower: White/grey, fragrant. Axillary, cymose. Dioecious.
Fruit: Yellow. Berry-like 1.5 – 2.5 cm in diameter.
Ecology: Riverine, dry lowland forest. Woodland. Grassland.
Distr: C, EA, N, LN, LT, LV. Tropical Africa, Arabian Peninsula.
Notes: NR.
Uses: The wood is used for timber, carvings, canoes, gun handles, firewood and charcoal. The tree is used for shade and avenues. Fruits are edible. The bark is used as medicine for stomach-ache and for dyeing mats with a red colour. Roots are used as medicine against Makua wizards when mixed with those of Asparagus in honey.
Diospyros natalensis (Harv.) Brenan
Syn. FTEA: NC.
Syn. TTCL: Maba natalensis Harv.
Syn. other: NR.
Local names: Mkululu (Sw).
Bole: Straight/branched. Small/medium. To 25 m.
Bark: Brown/grey. Smooth/peeling.
Slash: Brown. Wood white.
Leaf: Simple. Alternate.
Petiole: 0.2 – 3 cm.
Lamina: Small. (0.8 -) 1.3 – 5.5 × (0.3 -) 0.6 – 2.4 cm. Elliptic/lanceolate/ovate. Cuneate. Obtuse. Entire. Glabrous/margin with a few ciliolate hairs.
Domatia: Absent.
Glands: Absent.
Stipules: Absent.
Thorns & Spines: Absent.
Flower: White. Solitary or 2 – 4 flowered axillary cymes or ramiflorous. Dioecious.
Fruit: Yellow. Ellipsoid/ovoid, 0.6 – 0.8 cm long 0.5 cm wide, base surrounded by cupular calyx.
Ecology: Riverine, dry lowland and dry montane forest. Thicket.
Distr: C, EA, LN. Central, Eastern and Southern Africa. Madagascar.
Notes: Variable leaf size and shape. However the trees at Shume in the West Usambara are a distinctive small leaved variant.
Uses: The wood is used for firewood, building poles, charcoal and wooden spoons. The tree is also used for shade.
Diospyros occulta F. White
Syn. FTEA: NC.
Syn. TTCL: NR.
Syn. other: D. troupinii F. White in part.
Local names: NR.
Bole: Branched/straight. Small. To 12 m.
Bark: Black/dark brown. Smooth/flaking.
Slash: Pink on white.
Leaf: Simple. Alternate.
Petiole: 0.2 cm.
Lamina: Small. 1.5 – 12.5 × 1.3 – 5 cm. Elliptic/lanceolate. Cuneate. Asymmetric. Acuminate. Entire. Glabrous.
Domatia: NR.
Glands: NR.
Stipules: Absent.
Thorns & Spines: Absent.
Flower: White. Fragrant. Axillary/ramiflorous.
Fruit: Yellow. Subglobose 2.8 × 1.8 cm.
Ecology: Riverine, lowland and submontane forest.
Distr: C, EA. Southeast Kenya.
Notes: The Eastern African plants were originally included in D. troupinii and subsequently considered to be a distinct species.
Uses: The wood is used firewood, building poles, wooden spoons and tool handles.
Diospyros squarrosa Klotzsch
Syn. FTEA: NC.
Syn. TTCL: D. stuhlmannii Gürke
Syn. other: NR.
Local names: Mpweke (Sw).
Bole: Branched. Small. To 10 m.
Bark: Brown/black-grey. Longitudinally fissured.
Slash: NR.
Leaf: Simple. Alternate.
Petiole: 0.7 cm.
Lamina: Medium/small. 5.5 – 12 × 3 – 6.5 cm. Ovate/elliptic/obovate. Cuneate. Acute/acuminate. Entire. Glabrous/hairy beneath.
Domatia: Absent.
Glands: Absent.
Stipules: Absent.
Thorns & Spines: Absent.
Flower: White/yellow, fragrant. Axillary. Male: cymules. Female: solitary. Dioecious.
Fruit: Yellow. Fleshy, subglobose, glabrous, 2 × 2 cm.
Ecology: Dry lowland forest. Woodland. Thicket.
Distr: C, EA (Ru). Tropical Eastern and Central Africa.
Notes: Leaves red when young.
Uses: The wood is used for firewood, building poles, tool handles, animal yokes, spoons, charcoal and beams for carrying water.
Diospyros verrucosa Hiern
Syn. FTEA: NC.
Syn. TTCL: D. tuberculosa Gürke
Syn. other: NR.
Local names: NR.
Bole: Branched/straight. Small/medium. To 18 m.
Bark: Grey/black. Fissured longitudinally.
Slash: NR.
Leaf: Simple. Alternate.
Petiole: 0.3 – 0.7 cm.
Lamina: Medium/small. 2.5 – 12.5 × 1.2 – 5.5 (- 7) cm. Ovate/lanceolate. Cuneate/rounded. Acute/acuminate. Entire. Glabrous/hairy beneath.
Domatia: Absent.
Glands: Absent.
Stipules: Absent.
Thorns & Spines: Absent.
Flower: White/yellow. Axillary cymules or solitary. Dioecious.
Fruit: Cream/orange, becoming black, broadly ellipsoid. 4.5 × 4 cm.
Ecology: Evergreen forest, coastal scrub and grassland.
Distr: C. Mozambique.
Notes: Grey-green leaves.
Uses: NR.
Diospyros whyteana (Hiern) F.White
Syn. FTEA: NC.
Syn. TTCL: Royena goetzei Gürke, Royena nyassae Gürke
Syn. other: NR.
Local names: Mtonga, Litonga, Msisina (H).
Bole: Branched/straight. Small. To 13 m.
Bark: Brown. Rough.
Slash: Yellow, discolouring.
Leaf: Simple. Alternate.
Petiole: NR.
Lamina: Small. 2 – 8 × 1 – 3 cm. Lanceolate/elliptic. Rounded/cordate. Acute/acuminate. Entire. Glabrous/hairy.
Domatia: NR.
Glands: NR.
Stipules: Absent.
Thorns & Spines: Absent.
Flower: White/pale orange. Axillary. Solitary.
Fruit: Red. Subglobose, up to 2 cm in diameter enclosed in an inflated papery calyx.
Ecology: Riverine and montane forest.
Distr: EA, LN. Southern Africa.
Notes: Young shoots red. Leaf margins fringed with long hairs.
Uses: The wood is used for firewood, tool handles and spoons. Stems are used for tooth-brushes. Roots are used as medicine for snake-bites. The bark is used as a lip-stick and for dyeing mats.
Euclea divinorum Hiern
Syn. FTEA: NC.
Syn. TTCL: E. stuhlmannii Gürke, E. lanceolata E. Mey.
Syn. other: NR.
Local names: Mdaa (Sw), Nkenge (C).
Bole: Branched/straight. Small. To 15 m.
Bark: Grey-brown/black. Thick. Rough. Longitudinally fissured/scaling.
Slash: Dark red/pink, orange toward wood. Thick.
Leaf: Simple. Opposite/subopposite.
Petiole: 0.4 – 0.8 cm. Channelled.
Lamina: Small. 1.6 – 12 × 0.6 – 4.5 cm. Elliptic/lanceolate. Cuneate. Acute/obtuse. Entire. Glabrous. Red scales beneath, white scales above.
Domatia: Absent.
Glands: Absent.
Stipules: Absent.
Thorns & Spines: Absent.
Flower: Cream. Axillary raceme. Fragrant. Dioecious.
Fruit: Globose berry 0.6 cm in diameter.
Ecology: Dry montane forest. Thicket. Grassland.
Distr: C, EA, N, LT, LV. Eastern and Southern Africa, Socotra.
Notes: NR.
Uses: The wood is used for firewood, building poles, tool handles and spoons. The tree is used for shade. Leaves are used by the WaMasai to treat diarrhoea. Fruits, bark and roots are used as a purgative (in soup) also as a tonic for anaemia. The bark is used for treating tooth-ache. The roots of this species and those of Croton megalocarpus are boiled and drunk for treating pneumonia, chest pains and internal swellings. The bark produces a brown dye. Small branches are used as tooth brushes. The tree is used for shade and amenity.
Euclea natalensis A.DC. subsp. obovata F. White
Syn. FTEA: NC.
Syn. TTCL: E. fructuosa Hiern, E. multiflora Hiern
Syn. other: NR.
Local names: Mdaa, Mdaa-mwitu (Sw).
Bole: Small/medium. To 18 m.
Bark: Dark grey. Rough.
Slash: NR.
Leaf: Simple. Alternate/opposite.
Petiole: (0.4 -) 0.5 – 1.5 cm.
Lamina: Small. 3.5 – 12.5 × 1.5 – 5.7 cm. Ovate/elliptic. Cuneate. Obtuse. Entire. Hairy.
Domatia: NR.
Glands: NR.
Stipules: Absent.
Thorns & Spines: Absent.
Flower: Green/cream/white. Sweetly scented. Axillary.
Fruit: Globose, 5 – 5.5 cm in diameter.
Ecology: Dry montane and dry lowland forest. Grassland and thicket.
Distr: C, EA, N. Eastern and Southern Africa.
Notes: NR.
Uses: Roots yield a black dye.
Euclea racemosa L. subsp. schimperi (A.DC.) F. White
Syn. FTEA: NC.
Syn. TTCL: E. kellau Hochst., E. bilocularis Hiern, E. karaguensis Gürke, E. microcarpa Gürke, E. urijiensis Hiern
Syn. other: E. schimperi (A.DC.) Dandy
Local names: Mdaa (Sw), Olkinyei (M).
Bole: Small. To 15 m.
Bark: Grey. Smooth.
Slash: Pink.
Leaf: Simple. Alternate/opposite.
Petiole: 0.1 – 0.3 cm.
Lamina: Small. 2.8 – 13.5 × 0.8 – 4 cm. Ovate/oblong-lanceolate. Cuneate. Obtuse. Entire. Glabrous.
Domatia: NR.
Glands: NR. Stipules: Absent.
Thorns & Spines: Absent.
Flower: White. Axillary.
Fruit: Red/black. 0.6 – 0.8 cm in diameter.
Ecology: Dry montane and dry lowland forest. Thicket. Grassland.
Distr: C, EA, N, LN, LV. Eastern and Central Africa. Arabian Peninsula. Comoro Is.
Notes: E. bilocularis may be distinct.
Uses: The wood is used for firewood and tool handles. Roots are purgative and produce black dye.
Last Updated: 16 June 2017