Diospyros virginiana L.
Family - Ebenaceae
Stems - Twigs pubescent, with reddish-brown solid pith. New season's growth densely pubescent, green, terete, with short and long hairs. Mature bark blocky with square blocks. Tree to 20m tall but typically seen smaller and more shrubby.
New season's growth.
Leaves - Alternate, petiolate. Petioles to +2cm long, densely pubescent with short and long hairs, light green. Blades to +/-15cm long, +/-8cm broad, ovate, acute, deep shiny green and glabrous above, dull-light green and pubescent below, entire. Main lateral veins expressed below. Leaves of the inflorescence reduced.
Inflorescence - Paired or triple axillary flowers on the new season's growth. Peduncle to +3cm long, densely pubescent. Pedicels to +3cm long, densely pubescent with short and long hairs. Central flower of the inflorescence flowering first.
Flowers - Staminate - Corolla tube white, glabrous internally, mostly glabrous externally but pubescent on the lobes, 1cm long, 7-8mm broad. Lobes recurved, yellowish, 3mm long, 4-5mm broad, rounded. Stamens many (+/-16) adnate at the base of the corolla tube, erect, included. Filaments white, short, to 1mm long, antrorse pubescent at the apex. Anthers 4-5mm long, +1mm broad, brown. A vestigal pistil is surrounded by the stamens in the staminate flowers. Calyx 4-lobed, green, appressed to the corolla tube. Lobes 3mm long, +2mm broad at the base, acute, pubescent externally, mostly glabrous internally except near the apex. Pistillate flowers not seen but larger than the staminate. Fruits globose, 2-6cm in diameter, orange, frequently glaucous, with the persistent calyx. Seeds few to many, strongly compressed, brown.
Flowering - May - June.
Habitat - Dry open and rocky woods, glade edges, prairies, thickets, valleys along streams, old fields, clearings.
Origin - Native to U.S.
Other info. - This species can be found throughout much of Missouri but is mostly absent from the northern portion of the state. The tree is easy to identify becasue of its blocky bark which occurs very early in the plants growth. The sweet, edible fruits are reputed to be best only after they have been through a freezing period. The fruits don't keep long after being picked but can remain on the trees a long time and through much of the winter.
Photographs taken at Guntersville State Park, AL., 5-22-04, and off Lee Rd 54, Auburn, AL., 10-2-04.