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Family Ebenaceae
Diospyros ebenum J.Koenig ex Retz.

He shi

Scientific names Common names
Diospyros assimilis Bedd. Sapote (Tag.)
Diospyros ebenaster Retz. Black persimmon (Engl.)
Diospyros ebenum J. Konig ex Retz. Black sapote (Engl.)
Diospyros glaberrima Rottler Chocolate pudding fruit (Engl.)
Diospyros laurifolia A.Rich.. Chocolate sapote (Engl.)
Diospyros melanoxylon Willd.      [Illegitimate] Ebony persimmon (Engl.)
Diospyros membranacea A.DC.     
Diospyros timoriana (A.DC.) Miq.     
Sapote and zapote are common names shared by Calocarpum sapota, chico-mamei and Diospyros ebenaster, zapote negro.
Diospyros ebenaster Retz. is a synonym of Diospyros ebenum J.Koenig ex Retz. The Plant List
Diospyros ebenum J.Koenig ex Retz. is an accepted name The Plant List

Other vernacular names
CHINESE: He shi (Taiwan).
FRENCH: Barbacoa, Barbaquois, Caca poule (Antilles), Ébènier des Antilles, Sapote noire, Sapotier.
GERMAN: Ebenholzbaum, Schwarze Sapote.
INDIA: Tumbi, Karunkaali.
JAPANESE: Diosupirosu nigura.
PORTUGUESE: Ébano das Antilhas.
SPANISH: Ébeno agrio, Guayabota, Matasano de mico, Sapote negro, Zapote, Zapote de mico, Zapote negro, Zapote prieto.

Sapote is a tall, smooth tree, 7 to 15 meters high. Leaves are leathery, shiny, thick, oblong to elliptic-oblong, 10 to 20 centimeters long, and borne on rather short stalks. Flowers are dioecious, occurring singly in the axils of leaves and measuring from 1 to 1.5 centimeters long. Calyx is greenish, with broad truncate lobes. Corolla is tubular, lobed and white. Fruit is large, smooth, green, rounded, 9 to 12 centimeters in diameter, more or less depressed at its apex, enveloped at its base by a persistent calyx. Flesh of the fruit is yellowish, turning nearly black at maturity. Seeds are usually four, and about 2 centimeters long.

- Occasionally planted in and about towns as an ornamental foliage and for its large edible fruit.

- Nowhere spontaneous, but found in Isabela, Nueva Ecija, Bataan, and Rizal Provinces in Luzon, and on other islands.
- Introduced from Mexico during the early colonial period.

- Yields alkaloids, cardenolids.
- Phytochemical screening of stem extracts yielded flavonoids, tannins, triterpenes and carbohydrates. (see study below) (5)
- Studies have isolated lupeol, betulin, betulinic acid, Ursolic acid, a-amyrin, bauerenol, ß-sitiosterol, stigmasterol, ebenone plumbagin, hexacosanol, 6-hydroxy-4, 5, -dimethoxy-2-naphthaldehyde, 4, 5, 6-trimethoxy-2- naphthalene, 6-hydroxy-4, 5 -dimethoxy-2-naphthoic acid. (7)

- Considered astringent, attenuant, lithontriptic.
- Studies have suggested antioxidant, antibacterial properties.

Parts used
Fruit, bark, leaves.


- In the Philippines, fruit is eaten in milk, cooked in pies (with lemon to counteract its mawkishness), or made into ice-cream.
- Gummy astringent fruit eaten in times of scarcity.
- In the Philippines, pounded bark and leaves are used as blistering plaster.
- In Yucatan, decoction of leaves used for fevers.
- Used as remedy for leprosy, ringworm and for itching.
- In Tamil Nadu, stem bark used for cough, asthma, and diabetes.
- In Bangladesh, bark used for cuts and wounds to stop bleeding. Bark (1/2 kg) mixed with 1/2 kg of Erythrina variegata is boiled in 2 kg of water and reduced to a volume of 1 kg, and decoction taken 3-4 tsp thrice daily for 15 to 21 days for abdominal pain and diarrhea. (8)
- In the West Indies, unripe fruit is pounded and thrown into the water to narcotize the fish.

- Wood: Known for its black wood since ancient times. Considered the best commercial black ebony. Used for making musical instruments, ornamental carvings, tool handles, and turnery. (4)

Antioxidant / Fruit:
Study characterized the phytochemicals and antioxidants of the fruit of black sapote (Diospyro digna Jacq.) Study yielded phenolics, carotenoids and tocopherols. Total phenolic content was 347.8 mg BAE/100g fresh weight. Important phenolics were sinapic acid and myricetin. Antioxidant capacity by DPPH and FRAP assays showed antioxidant capacity comparable to other important fruits. (1)
Antimicrobial / C-Glucoside / Aerial Parts:
Study isolated a new C-alkylglucoside, diospyrodin from the leaves and stems of D. nigra. It showed antimicrobial activity against Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria. (3)
Antioxidant / Stems:
Study evaluated the antioxidant activity from various stem extracts of D. abenum using DPPH assay. A 70% methanol extract showed the best free radical scavenging activity. (see constituents above) (5)
Antibacterial / Antioxidant:
Study evaluated various extracts for antibacterial activity and DPPH radical scavenging activity. A methanol extract showed activity against all 5 bacterial test strains, viz. B. subtilis, S. aureus, P. aeruginosa, S. typhimurium, and E. enterogenes. The methanol extract also showed the highest total phenolic content and DPPH free radical scavenging activity. (6)


Godofredo U. Stuart Jr., M.D.

Last Update December 2015

IMAGE SOURCE: Photograph / Black Sapote Diospyros ebenaster Retz./ click on image to go to source page / © Florida Hill Nursery

IMAGE SOURCE: Public Domain / File:Diospyros nigra Blanco2.372-original.png / Flora de Filipinas / Franciso Manuel Blanco (OSA), 1880-1883 / Wikimedia Commons / Modifications by G Stuart

Additional Sources and Suggested Readings
Phytochemical and antioxidant characterization of the fruit of black sapote ( Diospyros digyna Jacq.) / Elhadi M. Yahia, Fabiola Gutierrez-Orozco, Claudia Arvizu-de Leon / FOOD RES INT 01/2011; 44(7):2210-2216. / DOI:10.1016/j.foodres.2010.11.025
Sorting Diospyros names / /Maintained by: Michel H. Porcher / MULTILINGUAL MULTISCRIPT PLANT NAME DATABASE / Copyright © 1995 - 2020 The University of Melbourne.
Antimicrobial C-glucoside from aerial parts of Diospyros nigra. / Dinda B, Bhattacharya A, De UC, et al. / Chem Pharm Bull (Tokyo) 2006 May; 54(5) :679-81.
Diospyros ebenum / World AgroForestry
Antioxidant Activity from Diospyros Ebenum Stems Extracts and Phytochemical Profile / Khaled Nabih Rashed / Journal of Applied and Industrial Sciences, 2013, 1 (2): 70-72
Antioxidant and antibacterial activity of Diospyros ebenum Roxb. leaf extracts / Yogesh Barvaliya, Mital Kaneria, Yogeshkumar Vaghasiya, Jigna Parekh, Sumitra Chanda / Turkish Journal of Biology (1.34). 05/2009; 33:159. / DOI: 10.3906/biy-0805-34
A review of phytochemical and biological studies of Diospyros species used in folklore medicine of Jharkhand / B. N. Sinha *, S. K. Bansal / JOURNAL OF NATURAL REMEDIES, Vol. 8/1 (2008) 11 - 17
A Survey of Medicinal Plants Used by Kavirajes of Barisal Town in Barisal District, Bangladesh /
Mohammed Rahmatullah et al / American-Eurasian Journal of Sustainable Agriculture, 4(2): 237-246, 2010

It is not uncommon for links on studies/sources to change. Copying and pasting the information on the search window or using the DOI (if available) will often redirect to the new link page.

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