home   about   search

biodiversity explorer

the web of life in southern Africa

Family: Ebenaceae

Life > eukaryotes > Archaeoplastida > Chloroplastida > Charophyta > Streptophytina > Plantae (land plants) > Tracheophyta (vascular plants) > Euphyllophyta > Lignophyta (woody plants) > Spermatophyta (seed plants) > Angiospermae (flowering plants) > Eudicotyledons > Core Eudicots > Asterids > Order: Ericales

Two genera and about 495 species worldwide (tropics and subtropics). The genus Diospyros is by far the most diverse and widespread (about 475 species) whereas Euclea (about 20 species) is native to Africa, mainly southern Africa. Both genera occur in southern Africa, with a total of 46 species that are native and a further five species that are cultivated in the region.

Genera native to southern Africa

Information mainly from Bredenkamp (2000).

Diospyros (Ebony, Persimmon, Star-apple, Jackal-berry genus)

About 475 species worldwide (cosmopolitan), of which 29 are native to southern Africa and a further five species are cultivated in the region. A number of species produce edible fruit or timber of commercial importance (e.g. ebony from India and Sri Lanka).

Diospyros whyteana (Bladdernut)

About 20 species, all native to Africa, with 17 species native to southern Africa.


There are no additional genera recorded by Glen (2002) as being cultivated in southern Africa.


  • Bredenkamp, C.L. 2000. Ebenaceae. In: Seed Plants of Southern Africa (ed. O.A. Leistner). Strelitzia 10: 245. National Botanical Institute, Pretoria.

  • Glen, H.F. 2002. Cultivated Plants of Southern Africa. Jacana, Johannesburg.