Diospyros

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Diospyros
Diospyros chloroxylon in Hyderabad, AP W IMG 7805.jpg
Diospyros chloroxylon
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Asterids
Order: Ericales
Family: Ebenaceae
Genus: Diospyros
L.
Type species
Diospyros lotus
L.
Diversity
About 750 species
Synonyms[1]
  • Cargillia R.Br.
  • Cavanillea Desr.
  • Ebenus Kuntze (nom. illeg.)
  • Embryopteris Gaertn.
  • Guaiacana Duhamel (nom. illeg.)
  • Idesia Scop.
  • Maba J.R.Forst. & G.Forst.
  • Mabola Raf.
  • Macreightia A.DC.
  • Noltia Thonn.
  • Paralea Aubl.
  • Pimia Seem.
  • Rhaphidanthe Hiern ex Gürke
  • Ropourea Aubl.
  • Royena L.
  • Tetraclis Hiern

Diospyros is a genus of over 700 species of deciduous and evergreen trees, shrubs and small bushes. The majority are native to the tropics, with only a few species extending into temperate regions. Depending on their nature, individual species are commonly known as ebony or persimmon trees. Some are valued for their hard, heavy, dark timber, and some for their fruit. Some are useful as ornamentals and many are of local ecological importance.

Taxonomy and etymology[edit]

The generic name Diospyros comes from the ancient Greek words "Dios" (διός) and "pyros" (πυρος). In context this means more or less "divine fruit" or "divine food", though its literal meaning is more like "Wheat of Zeus".[2][3] The interpretation of Diospyros is however sufficiently confusing to have given rise to some curious and inappropriate interpretations such as "God's pear" and "Jove's fire". The name Diospyros was originally applied to the Caucasian Persimmon (D. lotus).

The genus is a large one and the number of species has been estimated variously, depending on the date of the source. The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew list has over 1000 entries, including synonyms and items of low confidence. Over 700 species are marked as being assigned with high confidence.[4]

Diospyros in Bagh-e-Jinnah, Lahore

Chemotaxonomy[edit]

The leaves of Diospyros blancoi have been shown to contain isoarborinol methyl ether (also called cylindrin) and fatty esters of α- and β-amyrin.[5] Both isoarborinol methyl ether and the amyrin mixture demonstrated antimicrobial activity against Escherichia coli, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Candida albicans, Staphylococcus aureus and Trichophyton mentagrophytes.[5] Anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties have also been shown for the isolated amyrin mixture.[5]

Ecology[edit]

Diospyros species are important and conspicuous trees in many of their native ecosystems, such as lowland dry forests of the former Maui Nui in Hawaii,[6] Caspian Hyrcanian mixed forests, Kathiarbar-Gir dry deciduous forests, Louisiade Archipelago rain forests, Madagascar lowland forests, Narmada Valley dry deciduous forests, New Guinea mangroves or South Western Ghats montane rain forests. The green fruits are rich in tannins and thus avoided by most herbivores; when ripe they are eagerly eaten by many animals however, such as the rare Aders' Duiker (Cephalophus adersi).

The foliage is used as food by the larvae of numerous Lepidoptera species:

Arctiidae:

Geometridae:

Limacodidae:

Lycaenidae:

Nymphalidae:

Saturniidae:

Tortricidae:

An economically significant plant pathogen infecting many Diospyros species – D. hispida, Kaki Persimmon (D. kaki), Date-plum (D. lotus), Texas Persimmon (D. texana), Coromandel Ebony (D. melanoxylon) and probably others – is the sac fungus Pseudocercospora kaki, which causes a leaf spot disease.

Ebony jivari of a sitar

Use by humans[edit]

Betulinic acid can be isolated from Diospyros leucomelas

The genus includes several plants of commercial importance, either for their edible fruit (persimmons) or for their timber (ebony). The latter are divided into two groups in trade: the pure black ebony (notably from D. ebenum, but also several other species), and the striped ebony or Calamander wood (from D. celebica, D. mun and others). Most species in the genus produce little to none of this black ebony-type wood; their hard timber (e.g. of American Persimmon, D. virginiana) may still be used on a more limited basis.

Leaves of the Coromandel Ebony (D. melanoxylon) are used to roll South Asian beedi cigarettes. Several species are used in herbalism, and D. leucomelas yields the versatile medical compound betulinic acid. Though bees do not play a key role as pollinators, in plantations Diospyros may be of some use as honey plant. D. mollis, locally known as mặc nưa, is used in Vietnam to dye the famous black lãnh Mỹ A silk of Tân Châu district.

These trees are well-known in their native range, and consequently much used as floral emblems. In Indonesia, D. celebica (Makassar Ebony, known locally as eboni) is the provincial tree of Central Sulawesi, while ajan kelicung (D. macrophylla) is that of West Nusa Tenggara. The emblem of the Japanese island of Ishigaki is the Yaeyama kokutan (D. ferrea). In Thailand, the Gold Apple (D. decandra) is the provincial tree of Chanthaburi and Nakhon Pathom Provinces, while Black-and-white Ebony (D. malabarica) is that of Ang Thong Province. The name of the Thai district Amphoe Tha Tako literally means "District of the Diospyros pier" after a famous local gathering spot. Extracts from Diospyros plants have also been proposed as novel ant-viral treatment.[7]

Selected species[edit]

D. geminata foliage and young fruit
D. whyteana twig with young fruit
D. virginiana in Tampa, Florida

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ United States Department of Agriculture (1998). "Germplasm Resources Information Network".  |chapter= ignored (help)
  2. ^ Jaeger, Edmund Carroll (1959). A source-book of biological names and terms. Springfield, Ill: Thomas. ISBN 0-398-06179-3. 
  3. ^ Tice, John. H. "Essay on the Diospyros virginiana" Annual report / Missouri State Horticultural Society 1864.
  4. ^ "Diospyros". The Plant List. Retrieved 3 February 2014. 
  5. ^ a b c Ragasa, CY Puno, MR Sengson, JMA Shen, CC Rideout, JA Raga, DD (November 2009). "Bioactive triterpenes from Diospyros blancoi". Natural Product Research 23 (13): 1252–1258. doi:10.1080/14786410902951054. PMID 19731144. 
  6. ^ The Nature Conservancy – Hawaiʻi Operating Unit (March 2004). "Kānepuʻu Preserve Lānaʻi, Hawaiʻi Long-Range Management Plan Fiscal Years 2005–2010" (PDF). Hawaii Department of Land & Natural Resources Natural Area Partnership Program. p. 3. Retrieved 2009-04-09. 
  7. ^ http://www.google.com/patents/US20110027399

External links[edit]