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Diospyros ferrea


Diospyros ferrea (Willd.) Bak.

Family Name: Ebenaceae
Synonyms: Diospyros ferrea var. buxifolia
Common Name: Sea Ebony, Sechirik Laut, 象牙树


Family Name
Genus Epithet
Species Epithet
Name Authority
Name Status (botanical)
Common Names

Classifications and Characteristics

Plant Division Angiosperms (Flowering Seed Plants) (Dicotyledon)
Plant Growth Form Tree (Small (6m-15m))
Lifespan (in Singapore) Perennial
Mode of Nutrition Autotrophic
Plant Shape Irregular
Maximum Height 12 m


Native Distribution West Africa to India, Japan, China, through Myanmar, Indo-China, Thailand, Peninsular Malaysia, Singapore, Sumatra, Borneo to Australia and the Pacific Islands.
Native Habitat Terrestrial (Primary Rainforest, Secondary Rainforest, Coastal Forest)
Preferred Climate Zone Tropical
Local Conservation Status Native to Singapore (Presumed Nationally Extinct (NEx))

Description and Ethnobotany

Growth Form It is a small, bushy tree, up to 12 m tall.
Foliage Its stalked, leathery, alternate leaves are oblong, elliptic or obovate in shape, hairless to slightly hairy, 2-4 cm long by 1-2 cm wide.
Flowers This species is dioecious, with male and female flowers borne on separate plants. Its stalkless bell-shaped flowers are unisexual, with two bracts at the base, borne on an inflorescence, about 4.5-5.5 mm long.
Fruit Its fruits are fleshy, oval berries that are about 2 cm long and 1.5 cm wide, ripening red or black in colour.
Habitat It grows in coastal forests, up to 500 m in altitude. It is locally known from Pulau Ubin.
Associated Fauna Its flowers are insect pollinated. The fruits are eaten by birds.
Cultivation It can be propagated by seed.
Etymology Generic name Diospyros is derived from two Greek words, dios (divine) and pyros (wheat), meaning divine wheat. Specific epithet ferrea means pertaining to iron, probably an allusion to the colour of the hard wood.
Ethnobotanical Uses Timber & Products: Ornamental carvings and walking sticks are made using the strong, hard wood.

Landscaping Features

Landscaping It is suitable for streetscape planting, in gardens and parks and coastal areas for its attractive, bushy crown, strong and hard wood, and its tolerance for hot and windy conditions.
Desirable Plant Features Ornamental Fruits, Ornamental Form
Landscape Uses Coastal, General, Suitable for Roadsides, Parks & Gardens, Small Gardens

Fauna, Pollination and Dispersal

Fauna Pollination Dispersal Associated Fauna Bird-Attracting (Fruits)
Pollination Method(s) Biotic (Fauna)
Seed or Spore Dispersal Biotic (Fauna)

Plant Care and Propagation

Light Preference Full Sun
Water Preference Moderate Water
Plant Growth Rate Moderate
Rootzone Tolerance Moist Soils, Well-Drained Soils, Saline Soils / Salt Spray, Fertile Loamy Soils
Propagation Method Seed


Foliage Retention Evergreen
Mature Foliage Colour(s) Green
Mature Foliage Texture(s) Leathery
Foliar Type Simple / Unifoliate
Foliar Arrangement Along Stem Alternate
Foliar Attachment to Stem Petiolate
Foliar Shape(s) Non-Palm Foliage (Obovate)
Foliar Venation Pinnate / Net
Foliar Margin Entire
Leaf Area Index (LAI) for Green Plot Ratio 4.0 (Tree - Dense Canopy)

Floral (Angiosperm)

Flower & Plant Sexuality Unisexual Flowers , Dioecious
Flower Colour(s) White
Flower Grouping Cluster / Inflorescence
Flower Location Axillary
Flower Symmetry Radial

Fruit, Seed and Spore

Mature Fruit Colour(s) Black, Red
Mature Fruit Texture(s) Velvety / Furry / Tomentose
Fruit Classification Simple Fruit
Fruit Type
Mature Seed Colour(s) Black

Image Repository



Master ID 1559
Species ID 2852
Flora Disclaimer The information in this website has been compiled from reliable sources, such as reference works on medicinal plants. It is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment and NParks does not purport to provide any medical advice. Readers should always consult his/her physician before using or consuming a plant for medicinal purposes.
Species record last updated on: 10 August 2022.