ebony

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ebony,

common name for members of the Ebenaceae, a family of trees and shrubs widely distributed in warmer climates and in the tropics. The principal genus, Diospyros, includes both ebony and persimmon trees. Ebony wood, valued from ancient times, is hard and dark; it is extensively used for piano keys and in cabinetmaking, especially the black Macassar ebony of India and the East Indies. Several species (notably D. hirsuta) that have wood striped with black or with shades of brown are called calamander wood or variegated ebony. Several other unrelated hardwoods are commonly called ebony. Of the many species in the family bearing edible fruit, the best known are the persimmons. D. virginiana is native in the United States E of the Mississippi. The Japanese persimmon (D. kaki) is cultivated in Japan and China, in the Mediterranean area, and in the warmer regions of the United States. The unripe fruit contains tannic acid, a powerful astringent. Soft and pulpy when ripe, persimmons are difficult to market. Large quantities are eaten on the tree by opossums, whence the name possumwood for the tree. Persimmon wood has a limited use in the manufacture of objects (e.g., golf club heads) requiring hard wood. The ebony family is classified in the division MagnoliophytaMagnoliophyta
, division of the plant kingdom consisting of those organisms commonly called the flowering plants, or angiosperms. The angiosperms have leaves, stems, and roots, and vascular, or conducting, tissue (xylem and phloem).
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, order Ebenales, class Magnoliopsida.
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ebony

Wood of a number of tropical species, usually distinguished by its dark color, durability, and hardness; used for carving and ornamental cabinetwork. See also: Douglas fir
Illustrated Dictionary of Architecture Copyright © 2012, 2002, 1998 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Ebony

 

the dark wood of several species of tropical trees of the family Ebenaceae and several other families (Mimosaceae, Papi-lionaceae). Its color ranges from green to black. The best grades of ebony come from the tropical Diospyros crassiflora, D. ebenum, D. haplostylis, D. melanoxyion, and D. reticulata. The black heartwood is uniform in structure, heavy (with a density greater than 1), and hard. The annual rings and medullary rays are unnoticeable. Green ebony is obtained chiefly from the Central American Tecoma leucoxylon of the family Bignoniaceae.

Ebony is used as an ornamental facing for expensive furniture. It is also used in inlaid work and for the manufacture of musical instruments and various other wooden articles. The wood of D. lotus, from Transcaucasia and Middle Asia, is used in the USSR as an ebony substitute. It is used for various lathed objects, in joinery, and in the manufacture of shuttles for looms.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

ebony

[′eb·ə·nē]
(botany)
Any of several African and Asian trees of the genus Diospyros, providing a hard, durable wood.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

ebony

Wood of a number of tropical species usually distinguished by its dark color, durability, and hardness; used for carving, ornamental cabinetwork, etc.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Architecture and Construction. Copyright © 2003 by McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

ebony

1. any of various tropical and subtropical trees of the genus Diospyros, esp D. ebenum of S India, that have hard dark wood: family Ebenaceae
2. the wood of such a tree, much used for cabinetwork
3. 
a. a black colour, sometimes with a dark olive tinge
b. (as adjective: ebony skin
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005