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Products > Diospyros whyteana
Diospyros whyteana - Black-bark
Image of Diospyros whyteana
[2nd Image]
Habit and Cultural Information
Category: Shrub
Family: Ebenaceae (Ebonys, Persimmon)
Origin: South Africa (Africa)
Evergreen: Yes
Red/Purple Foliage: Yes
Flower Color: White
Bloomtime: Spring
Fragrant Flowers: Yes
Synonyms: [Royena lucida]
Height: 10-16 feet
Width: 6-8 feet
Exposure: Sun or Shade
Summer Dry: Yes
Irrigation (H2O Info): Low Water Needs
Winter Hardiness: 25-30 F
Diospyros whyteana (Black-bark) An evergreen upright small tree or shrub to 9 to 16 feet tall with smooth, dark grey bark and reddish brown stems holding the attractive alternate 1 to 1 1/2 inch long by 3/4 inch wide leathery oblong shaped leaves distichously in a parallel fashion. The leaves themselves are glossy dark green on the upper surface and dull green below with a slightly undulating ciliated margin and with new foliage bright green with a red margin. At various times of the year (often listed in winter and spring but for us often in fall too!) appear the small lightly fragrant bell shaped dioecious white flowers on stalks covered with fine white hairs. All our plants are from cuttings from a single female plant, which would develop dark red purple berries enclosed in a papery capsule if there was a male plants around to pollinate them. Plant in full to part sun with occasional irrigation. We have had this plant weather light frost and temperatures around 29F but it is listed as tender to frost. This is an attractive, compact and durable shrub that can allowed to grow tall as a small tree or can be trimmed as low as only 3 feet to make an excellent small to medium sized hedge plant and can be trained for bonsai. Black-bark can be found naturally in forest, on mountain slopes and in rocky places. It has a wide distribution occurring in all the provinces in South Africa and stretching as far north as Ethiopia. The South African National Biodiversity Institute website says of this plant: "This enticing little tree has so many wonderful features: dark green, strikingly glossy leaves; creamy fragrant flowers; unusual smooth, dark grey, almost black bark and distinctive reddish brown, papery, balloon-like fruit pods. Altogether, it is a very attractive and pleasing garden subject." In older books this plant has been listed as Diospyros whytei and it has also been called Royena lucida, a name that seems to be more commonly used in Australia and New Zealand, where this plant has long been cultivated as an ornamental. The name for the genus come the Greek words 'dios' meaning "divine" and "pyros" for "fruit", "wheat" or "grain" and roughly translating as "divine pear". It is a large genus with the most common plants being ebony and persimmons. The specific epithet honors the Scottish plant explorer Alexander Whyte. Other common names include Bladder Nut and African Snowdrop Bush, Glossy Box and Fijian Box. Our original plant came from Ganna Walska Lotusland Botanic Garden unidentified but it was later identified by John Bleck, who noted that he had given it to Lotusland from plants he had when managing the botany greenhouses at UCSB. There is also a nice plant on the edge of the Australian Garden at the Huntington Botanic Gardens accessioned as HBG 84618. 

This information about Diospyros whyteana displayed is based on research conducted in our horticultural library and from reliable online resources. We also will relate observations made about it as it grows in our nursery gardens and other gardens we have visited, as well how the crops have performed in containers in our nursery field. We will also incorporate comments that we receive from others and we welcome hearing from anyone with additional information, particularly if they can share any cultural information that would aid others in growing it.