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Diospyros malabarica - (Desr.) Kostel.

Common Name Indian Persimmon, Gaub, Timbiri, Mountain ebony
Family Ebenaceae
USDA hardiness 10-12
Known Hazards None known
Habitats Lowland rainforests; occurring scattered, typically along rivers and streams at elevations up to 300 metres[ 325 ]. Often found in shady and wet sites near streams in the forest at elevations up to 500 metres[ 418 ].
Range E. Asia - India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, Indonesia.
Edibility Rating    (1 of 5)
Other Uses    (4 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (3 of 5)
Care (info)
Tender Moist Soil Full shade Semi-shade Full sun
Diospyros malabarica Indian Persimmon, Gaub, Timbiri, Mountain ebony

Diospyros malabarica Indian Persimmon, Gaub, Timbiri, Mountain ebony
International Institute of Tropical Agriculture


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Indian Persimmon or Diospyros malabarica is an evergreen flowering tree native to the Indian subcontinent and Southeast Asia. It is slow-growing, well-branched, and has a spreading crown and a straight, cylindrical trunk that grows about 70cm in diameter. It reaches a height of about 37 m. The leaves are shiny green and the flowers are white or green. The bark and unripe fruits are used in Ayurvedic medicine. Unripe leaves and fruits are used to dye cloth back. Ripe fruit can be eaten raw - it has a sweet flavour, and is round and yellowish green in colour.

Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of cone
Diospyros malabarica is an evergreen Tree growing to 35 m (114ft) by 25 m (82ft) at a slow rate.
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 10. The flowers are pollinated by Insects.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils. Suitable pH: mildly acid, neutral and basic (mildly alkaline) soils and can grow in very alkaline soils.
It can grow in full shade (deep woodland) semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


Diospyros biflora Blanco Diospyros citrifolia Wall. ex A.DC. Diospyros embryopteris Pers. Diospyros


Edible Uses

Edible Parts:
Edible Uses: Gum

Fully ripe fruits - raw[ 325 ]. Edible, but usually not very palatable[ 317 ]. A sweet flavour[ 325 ]. The round, yellowish green berry is 2 - 5cm in diameter with up to 6 seeds in the soft pulp[ 325 ]. When less than fully ripe the fruit can contain large quantities of tannin and are very astringent[ K ].

References   More on Edible Uses

Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.
Anthelmintic  Antibacterial  Antibilious  Antidiarrhoeal  Antidote  Astringent  Demulcent  Dysentery  
Febrifuge  Leprosy  Skin

The bark, leaves, flowers and fruits are much used in Ayurvedic medicine[ 317 ]. The fruit, when unripe, is said to be cold, light, and astringent; and to possesses anti-bacterial and anthelmintic activity[ 317 , 555 ]. It is used externally to heal sores and wounds[ 555 ]. When ripe, the fruit is beneficial in treating diarrhoea and dysentery; blood diseases; gonorrhoea and leprosy[ 317 ]. The fruit is also said to break fever, to be an antidote for snake poisoning, and to be demulcent[ 555 ]. The juice of the fresh bark is useful in the treatment of bilious fevers. Externally, the bark is said to be a good application for treating boils and tumours. The medicinal properties of the plant are most likely due to the presence of tannins[ 555 ]. The seeds are used as a treatment for diarrhoea and chronic dysentery[ 325 ]. The oil extracted from the seeds is used medicinally[ 146 ]..

References   More on Medicinal Uses

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Other Uses

Adhesive  Dye  Furniture  Gum  Preservative  Tannin  Varnish  Waterproofing  Wood

Other Uses: The fruit, especially when unripe, contains a viscid pulp that is rich in tannins and is the source of a gum. It can be used to caulk boats; to paint the undersides of boats and thus act as a preservative; and as a gum and adhesive in bookbinding[ 46 , 146 , 317 ]. A dark oil prepared from the fruit (this is probably the gum[ K ]) makes an excellent varnish for paper umbrellas and fans[ 555 ]. An infusion of the fruit is used to toughen ropes and render them more durable in water[ 46 , 146 ]. The unripe fruits (sometimes also the leaves) are a source of tannins that are used for dyeing silk and other clothes black[ 317 , 325 ]. A valuable and highly decorative hardwood that is strong, hard, dense and very durable[ 325 , 555 ]. It is used for items such as luxury furniture and wood carvings, and also as a raw material for boats and constructions (buildings, bridges etc[ 325 ]. We do not have any more specific information for this species. However, though varying widely in the relative proportion and the colouring of sapwood and heartwood, all the woods of the genus Diospyros are practically indistinguishable as regards their structure, as described below:-[ 721 ] Whether or not a given species produces heartwood depends largely on the size the tree has attained, but evidently also on other conditions, as there is a wide variation in the relative amounts of sapwood and heartwood even in individuals of the same species. When produced, the heartwood can be black with rosy, yellowish, brownish, or ashy streaks, sometimes it is nearly or totally black; it is generally sharply demarcated from the thin to very wide band of whitish, yellowish, or red sapwood. The texture is fine, smooth and (especially in the heartwood) very dense; the grain is generally very straight. The wood is hard to very hard; heavy to very heavy; the sapwood is tough and flexible whilst the heartwood is brittle; the heartwood is very durable, the sapwood moderately so. It is difficult to season well, logs almost invariably checking in several directions from the heart outward, while sawn lumber must be stacked carefully and weighted to prevent warping; once thoroughly dried, however, it becomes very stable. Its density makes it difficult to work, but it takes a beautiful surface under sharp tools[ 721 ]. Small trees containing little or no heartwood are used locally for posts, beams, joists, rafters, window sills, parts of agricultural implements, etc.; also, in lumbering, small poles are used for skids on account of their hardness, toughness and smooth wearing qualities. The heartwood (or sometimes sap and heart together) is used for scabbards, canes, hilts, tool handles, gunstocks, saw frames, etc.; it is a favorite for musical instruments, especially finger boards and keys of guitars; furniture, cabinetwork, inlaying; paper weights, inkstands and similar desk supplies; the sapwood, which is almost as hard as the heartwood and very much tougher, is an excellent material for T-squares and other drawing instruments, for shuttles, bobbins, spindles, golf-club heads and shafts, axe, pick, and hammer handles, etc[ 721 ].

Special Uses

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

A plant of the moist, lowland tropics, where it is found at elevations up to 500 metres. It grows best in areas where annual daytime temperatures are within the range 25° - 35°c, but can tolerate 10° - 40°c[ 418 ]. It prefers a mean annual rainfall in the range 1,500 - 2,500mm, but tolerates 1,000 - 3,000mm[ 418 ]. Fairly tolerant of light levels, able to succeed in the fairly dense shade as well as the full sun[ 418 ]. Succeeds in most soils that are fertile[ 418 ]. Succeeds on shallow to deep soil with an alkaline to neutral pH[ 325 ]. Prefers a pH in the range 6 - 7, tolerating 5 - 7.5[ 418 ]. Productive trees can yield 4,000 fruits per year[ 146 ]. We have seen no individual confirmation for this species, but in general Diospyros species are dioecious and require both male and female forms to be grown if fruit and seed are required[ 899 ].

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

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Seed - it has a very short viability and so should be sown as soon as possible[ 325 ]. The flesh should be removed since this contains germination inhibitors[ 325 ]. Sow the seed in a shady position in a nursery seedbed. The sowing media for ebony uses soil and fine sand at the ratio 3:1. The seed is planted horizontally or vertically with the radicle end down, with a sowing depth of 1 - 1_ times the thickness of the seed. The distance between the seeds is 3 - 5cm. Seeds are very sensitive to desiccation during germination and early growth, so must be regularly watered at this time[ 325 ]. Normally the seed will germinate after one week. In one trial, fresh seed, sown one day after collection, showed an 85% germination rate within 17 - 65 days[ 325 ]. As a rule, fresh seeds have a high percentage of fertility. The seedlings develop long taproots at an early stage, often before any appreciable elongation of the shoot takes place. The growth of the seedling is decidedly slow [ 652 ].

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Gaub tree, Malabar ebony, Black-and-white ebony, Pale moon ebony,Gab, Kandu, Panachi, Tendu, Tendak, Thei-kum,

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Found In

Countries where the plant has been found are listed here if the information is available

Asia, India, Indochina, Laos, Nepal, Northeastern India, SE Asia, Singapore, Thailand, USA, Bangladesh; Cambodia; Indonesia; Lao People's Democratic Republic; Malaysia; Myanmar; Nepal; Sri Lanka; Thailand

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status : This taxon has not yet been assessed.

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Growth: S = slow M = medium F = fast. Soil: L = light (sandy) M = medium H = heavy (clay). pH: A = acid N = neutral B = basic (alkaline). Shade: F = full shade S = semi-shade N = no shade. Moisture: D = dry M = Moist We = wet Wa = water.


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(Desr.) Kostel.

Botanical References

Links / References

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A special thanks to Ken Fern for some of the information used on this page.

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