Diospyros mespiliformis is a densely crowned evergreen tree, attaining heights of 15—50 m. The stem is rounded, buttressed, and has grey-black or black bark (Palgrave, 1981). The bark is smooth in young trees, but rough with regular scales in older trees. The leaves are alternate, oblong to elliptical in shape, 4—7 cm long and 1.5—5.5 cm wide, shiny above, paler beneath, and hairy when young (Janick & Paull, 2008). The white flowers are fragrant. Dioecious in nature, pollination is by bees. In Southern Africa, the tree flowers during the rainy season (October to November) and fruit matures during the April to September dry season (Palgrave, 1981; Janick & Paull, 2008). Its globose, fleshy fruit is about 3 cm in diameter, greenish and pubescent when young, yellowish to orange when ripe, and with an enlarged calyx. The physical characteristics of Diospyros mespiliformis seeds are summarized in Table 16.1. The tree is easily propagated from seed (their dormancy is broken by soaking the seeds in hot water for a few minutes), coppice cuttings, seedlings, and root suckers (Janick & Paull, 2008).
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