The Persimmon Family
The Persimmon family comprise evergreen and deciduous shrubs and trees with clear sap and hard wood, sometime black. Leaves are simple, usually alternate, organized in planes along the stem (distichous), petiolate without stipules. Leaf blades are fine, with pinnate venation and smooth margins. Floral arrangements are axillary cymes, racemes, fascicles or panicles. Flowers are unisexual and radially symmetric. There are 3 -5 sepals and 3 – 5 petals in the flower both of which fused at the base. The male flowers are tubular and the female flowers urn-shaped. The superior ovary contains 2 -8 fused carpels usually forming 8 locules. The styles are short and branching the number of times as the number of carpels. Fruits are usually berries with an astringent endocarp with up to 16 seeds per fruit. Seed are shiny with a small apical hilum.
Ebenaceae are a pantropical family. The family consists of 4 genera: Diospyros, Euclea, Royena and Lissocarpa, Many species of Diospyros have edible fruit but only the kaki or “sharon fruit”, D. kaki, is widely grown. Apart from their fruit, Ebenaceae are best known for their timber; ebony is used mainly for carving , musical instruments, furniture, cabinetry and decorative veneer. Most species of Diospyros yield a black or white ebony. True ebony is harvested mainly from D. ebenum and D. melanoxylon. “Ebenus” is Latinized from Greek, hebenos, black wood or ebony. “Diospyros” is derived from “divine wheat” or “divine grain”, in reference to the starchy fruit of the date plum, D. lotus.