HOME      •      SEARCH      •      EMAIL    •     ABOUT

Family Ebenaceae
Diospyros ebenum J.König 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, Karimaram.
JAPANESE: Diosupirosu nigura.
MAURITIUS: Bois d' ebene.
PORTUGUESE: Ébano das Antilhas.
SINHALESE: Kaluwara gas.
SPANISH: Ébeno agrio, Guayabota, Matasano de mico, Sapote negro, Zapote, Zapote de mico, Zapote negro, Zapote prieto.

Capote 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 judicious, occurring singly in the axis 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 Isabel, Neva Alecia, Bataan, and Rial Provinces in Luzon, and on other islands.
- Introduced from Mexico during the early colonial period.

- Yields alkaloids, cardholders.
- Photochemical screening of stem extracts yielded flavoring, tannins, tritenesses and carbohydrates. (see study below) (5)
- Studies have isolated lupe, botulin, tuberculin acid, ursola acid, a-amyrin, bandoleer, 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)
- Phytochemical screening of fruit extracts yielded
essential oils, saponins, terpenoids, flavonoids, and alkaloids. (10)
- Study isolated ebenone, a biogenetically significant ß-naphthyl-1,4-naphthaquinone derivate. (14)

- 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 Tamil
Nadu, crushed leaves applied to the face to reduce blisters. (12)
- In In the Rodrigues Island, Indian Ocean, infusion of grated bark twice weekly for treatment of diabetes. (13)
- Paste of whole plant applied to skin diseases and for wound healing.

- Fish poison: In the West Indies, unripe fruit is pounded and thrown into the water to narcotize the fish.

- Black wood: Known for its black wood since ancient times. Considered the best commercial black ebony. Resistant to insect attack and fungi. Used for making musical instruments, ornamental carvings, tool handles, and turnery. (4) Extremely valuable, it is sold in kilograms.

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)
• TiO2 Nanoparticles / Leaves:
Study reports on the eco-friendly, easy, and green synthesis of crystalline anatase titanium dioxide (T1O2) nanoparticles (NPs) using D. ebenum leaf extract as reducing agent. The TiO2Nps synthesized at 600˚C exhibited high photocatalytic efficiency and dye adsorption and showed excellent antibacterial activity. (11)


© Godofredo U. Stuart Jr., M.D. / StuartXchange

Updated August 2018 / 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
Diospyros ebenum / Synonym / The Plant List
Preliminary Phytochemical Analysis of Diospyros Species / M. Maridass, S. Ghanthikumar and G. Raju / Ethnobotanical Leaflets, 2008; 12: pp 868-872
Phytosynthesis and Characterization of TiO2 Nanoparticles using Diospyros ebenum Leaf Extract and their Antibacterial and Photocatalytic Degradation of Crystal Violet / Subramanian Senthilkumar, Mahalingam Ashok, Lellala Kashinath, Chinnappanadar Sanjeeviraja and Annamalai Rajendran / Smart Science, 2018; Vol 6, Issue 1
MEDICINAL PLANTS AND THEIR USES: A STUDY OF TWELVE SACRED GROVES IN CUDDALORE AND VILLUPURAM DISTRICTS, TAMIL NADU, INDIA / S. Karthik , J. Subramanian. M, S. Ravikumar. R. Dhamotharan / Research Paper Biotechnology, May 2016; Col 2, Issue 5
Ethnopharmacological analysis of medicinal plants used against non-communicable diseases in Rodrigues Island, Indian Ocean / Anne Kathie Samoisy, M. Fawzi Mahomoodally /Journal of Ethnopharmacology, 2015; 173: pp 20–38
Structure of ebenone, a possible biogenetic precursor of elliptinone, from Diospyros ebenum / Akella V B Sankaram, Vaddu V Narayana Reddy / Phytochemistry, 21 Aug 1984; Vol 23, Issue9: pp 2039-2042



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.

HOME      •      SEARCH      •      EMAIL    •     ABOUT