Australian Tropical Rainforest Plants - Online edition

Diospyros compacta (R.Br.) Kosterm.

Shrub (woody or herbaceous, 1-6 m tall)
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Male flowers. © CSIRO
Leaves and Flowers. © CSIRO
Fruit. © CSIRO
A. male flower; B. dissected corolla, male flower; C. dissected stamens and pistillode, male flower; D. female flower; E. dissected corolla, female flower; F. dissected ovary, female flower; G. fruit. © Queensland Government
Fruit, three views, cross section and seed. © W. T. Cooper
Fruit, side view and seed. © W. T. Cooper
Scale bar 10mm. © CSIRO
Scale bar 10mm. © CSIRO
Cotyledon stage, epigeal germination. © CSIRO
10th leaf stage. © CSIRO
Cotyledon stage, epigeal germination. © CSIRO
10th leaf stage. © CSIRO

Kostermans, A.G.J.H. (1977) Blumea 23: 454.

Common name

Australian ebony; Ebony, Australian


Grows into a tree to 15 m tall but also flowers and fruits as a shrub. Bark on trees usually very dark, almost black.


Leaf blades thick, coarse and leathery, about (1.5-)3-8(-12) x (0.8-)2-4(-8.5) cm, emarginate at the apex, margin recurved. Petioles about 0.3-1 cm long. Twig lenticels pale, elongated longitudinally, quite numerous and conspicuous. Midrib depressed or in a valley on the upper surface. Venation difficult to discern. Scattered black glands 1-4, often visible on towards base of the leaf blade underside.


Male inflorescence or 1-5 flowers, usually 3. Male flowers: Outer surface of the calyx glabrous or sparsely clothed in short hairs; outer surface of the corolla densely clothed in much longer, pale, straight, prostrate hairs; stamens (4-)6-9, free or up to 3 singles and 3 fused pairs; pistillode 1.5 mm long, hairy. Female flowers mostly solitary; calyx 3-4-lobed; corolla 3-4-lobed, lobes broadly ovate; staminodes absent.


Fruits globose, about 14 mm diam., soon becoming glabrous; 3-4 lobed calyx persistent at the base. Seeds ellipsoid, about 5-6.5 mm long. Embryo small, radicle 3-5 mm long, cotyledons flat, about 2.5 x 1.5 mm, wider than the radicle. Cotyledons orbicular, much wider than the radicle.


Cotyledons +/- orbicular, about 15-18 x 11-17 mm. First pair of leaves obovate. At the tenth leaf stage: leaf blades obovate to narrowly spathulate, apex rounded to obtuse to spathulate, base cuneate to attenuate. Midrib depressed on the upper surface. Lateral veins forming very indistinct loops well inside the leaf blade margin. Terminal bud clothed in brown or pale brown prostrate hairs. Roots (hypocotyl) very dark, almost black. Seed germination time 11 to 45 days.

Distribution and Ecology

Probably endemic to Australia, occurs in NT, CYP, NEQ and CEQ. Altitudinal range small, usually close to sea level. Usually grows in beach forest or monsoon forest on islands or on the mainland close to the sea.

Ebenus compacta (R.Br.) Kuntze, Revisio Generum Plantarum 2: 408(1891). Diospyros ferrea var. compacta (R.Br.) Fosberg, Brittonia 40: 61(1988). Maba compacta R.Br., Prodromus Florae Novae Hollandiae : 528(1810), Type: Australia, North Coast Island, Feb. 18, 21, 1803, R. Brown. Diospyros sp. Mt White (P.I.Forster 14415).
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