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Project Name Data (Last Modified On 7/19/2013)
 

Flora Data (Last Modified On 7/19/2013)
Family EBENACEAE
Contributor F. WHITE
Description Trees, shrubs or rarely suffruticose from a woody rhizome, without milky sap; heartwood sometimes black; indumentum usually of simple, unicellular, setose, strigose, or sericeous hairs, but multicellular glandular, unicellular bibrachiate, and multicellular peltate hairs sometimes present. Leaves usually alternate, rarely opposite, exstipulate, entire, the epidermal cells papillose in some species, mostly in those with a glaucous lower epidermis. Flowers actinomorphic, hypogynous, unisexual, but often with well-developed staminodes or pistillodes, solitary, fasciculate, cymose or rarely in false racemes or panicles; calyx gamosepalous, entire to deeply lobed, sometimes closed in bud, otherwise with open or imbricate aestivation, always persistent in fruit and often accrescent; corolla gamopetalous with contorted aestivation, shortly to deeply lobed, rotate, urceolate, salver- shaped or sausage shaped, often constricted at the throat; stamens 2-100+, epipetalous or borne on the receptacle, the filaments usually short and flattened, the anthers lanceolate or sagittate, often 2 or more arising from a single filament, usually dehiscing by lateral slits, rarely by apical pores, the connective well developed, often larger than the anthers, often apiculate or rostrate; ovary syncarpous, 2-5 or more carpellary, the carpels 2-ovulate, usually completely or partly divided by a false septum, rarely unilocular, the ovules pendulous from the apex of the locule, the styles distinct or basally connate, less often more or less completely united, the stigmas usually large, fleshy and irregularly lobed. Fruit a berry, rarely tardily dehiscent; seeds large; endosperm abundant, hard, some- times ruminate; embryo relatively small, straight or slightly curved, the radicle well developed, the cotyledons flat, oval, foliaceous, usually emergent, either persistent and photosynthetic or fugaceous and non photosynthetic.
Habit Trees, shrubs
Distribution The Ebenaceae is a family with 2 genera; Euclea Murr. with a dozen species is confined to Africa, and the pantropical Diospyros has ca. 80 species in America, 94 on the African mainland, ca. 100 in Madagascar, and ca. 200 in tropical Asia and the Pacific
Note It shows only feeble penetrations into temperate latitudes and is poorly represented on tropical mountains. Among Panamanian families the Ebenaceae appears to be most closely re- lated to the Sapotaceae, from which it differs inter alia in the articulated, uni- sexual flowers, biovulate carpels with apical placentation, bitegmic ovules, the small hilum of the seed, and the absence of latex. The number of floral parts in Ebenaceae is very variable, both between and within species. The unripe fruit is very astringent but the ripe fruit of most species is edible, though in a few species it is used as a fish poison. The whole fruit is usually the unit of dispersal but it seems that in D. salicifolia individual seeds with adherent pericarp are removed by birds or small mammals while the fruit is still attached to the tree. The Central American species D. digyna has been planted in many parts of the tropics for its edible fruit. Diospyros blancoi A. DC., a native of the Philip- pines which also has an edible fruit has been planted in a few places in Panama. It is much better known under the illegitimate name D. discolor Willd. Our knowledge of Panamanian Ebenaceae is very incomplete and more col- lecting is needed. No species is represented in herbaria by complete material. In this account 4 species are provisionally given specific names. All four are widespread and variable, and the Panamanian representatives are somewhat different from their relatives elsewhere. Further work may lead to the recognition of distinct subspecies. The descriptions of the flowers of D. dig yna, D. salicifolia, and D. artanthifolia (in part) are based on non-Panamanian material.
Reference Hiern, W. P. 1873. A monograph of Ebenaceae. Trans. Cambridge Philos. Soc. 12: 27-300. Howard, R. A. 1961. The correct names for "Diospyros ebenaster." J. Arnold Arb. 42: 430-435.
 
 
 
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