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A discussion of the genus Diospyros of the family Ebenaceae, the ebony family
I do not represent this list as being at all complete for those Diospyros species that produce even small sizes of useful wood, but it does contain a good many, probably most, of the Diospyros species for which any craftsperson in the USA could hope to obtain even a wood sample, and for many of them, there is even less hope of obtaining an amount of wood adequate for even small craft objects.
The Diospyros genus contains at the very least another 200 species that are not listed here but that do produce useable wood. How many OTHER Diospyros species there are I do not know. Some of the wood-producing trees and shrubs have common names that include the word ebony, but some also use "plum" or "persimmon" and many others, and they are all too obscure for me to feel obliged to include them on this web site, especially since many of the ones I DO include below are not even close to being readily available in the USA.
Some of this information was provided by Bill Mudry, whom I thank once again for all of his helpful information about botanical names.
For craftspeople in the USA (the primary audience of this web site), there are two main types of ebony and a very small number of others. More detailed discussion of each of these is available on their individual pages on this web site.
The main two are:
"Gaboon ebony", which is the common name I use for what is also called "Nigerian ebony", "East African ebony", and many other names depending on country of origin. This is what people normally mean when they say "ebony". It's the black kind, although it actually frequently has lighter streaks. It is generally VERY expensive and requires some care in working as it is slightly brittle and prone to cracking.
"macassar ebony", which is usually a very striped wood with widely varying amounts of light and dark wood. This name is to be distinguished from "Madagascar ebony" which is just another common name equivalent to "Gaboon ebony". Macassar ebony is also expensive (all the ebony's are) but is somewhat less delicate to work than Gaboon ebony. Also note that "macassar" apparently should actually be "makassar" but in the USA "macassar" is so prevalent that I have listed everything that way.
Some of the other specialy woods that are occasionally available in the USA, and that have their own pages on this web site, are "pale moon ebony" (aka "black and white ebony"), "mun ebony", and persimmon (which is not normally thought of as an ebony, but which does belong to the same genus)
Some of the wood-producing species that are sold under the names discussed above, and some other names, are listed below. All of these have more than one common name (most of them MANY more than one), but I list only one, sometimes two, for simplicity. Many of these are not black. Persimmon, for example, is almost all light colored with a tiny pith area of black. Some of these have no black at all.
NOTE: the names "black ebony", "African ebony", and "streaked (or striped) ebony" are so widely applied to many of the species in this genus that they are almost meaningless, and some of the species listed below are there just to illustrate this fact.
As far as I am aware all botanical names here are accepted names; there are no synonyms.
Diospyros blancoi --- Philippine ebony
Diospyros buxifolia --- Philippine striped ebony
Diospyros celebica --- macassar ebony / makassar ebony
Diospyros crassiflora --- African ebony / African persimmon
Diospyros diepenhorstii --- kayu malam
Diospyros dendo --- Gaboon ebony / black ebony
Diospyros discolor --- macassar ebony
Diospyros ebenum --- black ebony / Ceylon ebony / East Indian ebony
Diospyros embryopteris --- pale moon ebony / black and white ebony
Diospyros inclusa --- East Indian ebony
Diospyros insularis --- macassar ebony / New Guinea striped ebony
Diospyros kamerunensis --- African ebony
Diospyros kirkii --- Tanzania ebony
Diospyros kurzii --- macassar ebony
Diospyros macassar --- East Indian ebony / macassar ebony
Diospyros marmorata --- Andaman ebony / streaked ebony / macassar ebony
Diospyros melanoxylon --- East Indian ebony / black ebony
Diospyros mespiliformis --- African ebony
Diospyros mun --- mun ebony / Vietnamese ebony
Diospyros nigra --- black persimmon / black sapote
Diospyros papuana --- Papua New Guinea ebony
Diospyros pendula --- Philippine striped ebony (and sometimes sold as "black and white ebony")
Diospyros perrieri --- Madagascar ebony (NOT macassar ebony)
Diospyros persimon --- persimmon (synonym of Diospyros virginiana)
Diospyros reticulata --- black ebony
Diospyros rumphii --- black ebony / macassar ebony / streaked ebony.
Diospyros texana --- (American) persimmon / Texas persimmon
Diospyros tomentosa --- tendu
Diospyros toxicaria --- Madagascar ebony
Diospyros vera --- Hawaiian persimmon
Diospyros virginiana --- (American) Persimmon / white ebony
Once again, there are at least 200 more wood-producing species in Diospyros that are not listed here and there are numerous names that are synonyms for names that are listed here.