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Ebony

Ebony, the heavy and hard heart - wood of various species of Diospyros, a genus of the order Ebenaceae, which is either black or brown, durable, and susceptible of polish. The order includes five genera, and about 250 species, upwards of 100 of which belong to the genus Diospyros. These are mostly natives of tropical Asia, Mauritius, etc., three or four only being African, and about a dozen American. They are trees with dioecious flowers, and fleshy, sometimes edible fruit. The best black ebony is that of D. reticulata of Mauritius. East Indian ebony is D. melanoxylon and D. ebenaster; Ceylon, D. ebenum. The hard, heavy, greenish-brown wood of the shrubby leguminous Brya ebenus of the West Indies is known as Jamaica or green ebony. Ebony is used in cabinet-work, inlaying, for knife-handles, rulers, pianoforte-keys, etc., and was valued for its durability by the ancients, and as a supposed antidote to poison. D. quaesita yields the mottled brown and black Calamander wood of Ceylon: the fruit of D. kaki is the kaki, keg-plum, or Chinese date-plum of China and Japan; and that of D. virginiana, the persimon of Virginia and the southern United States.

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