Diospyros montana, the Bombay ebony, is a small deciduous tree in the ebony family up to 15 metres (49 ft) tall, distributed all along the Western Ghats of India, Sri Lanka, Indo-China through to Australia.
Bombay ebony is a small, deciduous tree with a spiny bole and spiny older branches, growing up to 7 metres tall. The plant is sometimes harvested from the wild for its wood and edible fruit. The fruits are poisonous. This could very well refer to the immature fruit. The crushed leaves and fruits are used for stupefying fish.
E. Asia - Indian subcontinent, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines to Australia.
Dry lowland forest in Malaysia. Deciduous forests and drier areas.
Fruit is spherical, cherry sized, yellow when ripe. The fruit is poisonous.
The fruits are applied externally to treat boils.
The wood is grey, often tinged with yellow or brown, streaked with narrow patches of darker colour, especially towards the centre, but there is no regular ebony heartwood. The wood is soft to moderately hard, durable. A beautiful furniture wood, but the tree rarely grows to a sufficient size to give timber, and is more often found as a much-branched thorny plant.
We do not have any more specific information for this species. However, though varying widely in the relative proportion and the colouring of sapwood and heartwood, all the woods of the genus Diospyros are practically indistinguishable as regards their structure, as described below:
Whether or not a given species produces heartwood depends largely on the size the tree has attained, but evidently also on other conditions, as there is a wide variation in the relative amounts of sapwood and heartwood even in individuals of the same species. When produced, the heartwood can be black with rosy, yellowish, brownish, or ashy streaks, sometimes it is nearly or totally black; it is generally sharply demarcated from the thin to very wide band of whitish, yellowish, or red sapwood. The texture is fine, smooth and (especially in the heartwood) very dense; the grain is generally very straight. The wood is hard to very hard; heavy to very heavy; the sapwood is tough and flexible whilst the heartwood is brittle; the heartwood is very durable, the sapwood moderately so. It is difficult to season well, logs almost invariably checking in several directions from the heart outward, while sawn lumber must be stacked carefully and weighted to prevent warping; once thoroughly dried, however, it becomes very stable. Its density makes it difficult to work, but it takes a beautiful surface under sharp tools.
Small trees containing little or no heartwood are used locally for posts, beams, joists, rafters, window sills, parts of agricultural implements, etc.; also, in lumbering, small poles are used for skids on account of their hardness, toughness and smooth wearing qualities. The heartwood (or sometimes sap and heart together) is used for scabbards, canes, hilts, tool handles, gunstocks, saw frames, etc.; it is a favorite for musical instruments, especially finger boards and keys of guitars; furniture, cabinetwork, inlaying; paper weights, inkstands and similar desk supplies; the sapwood, which is almost as hard as the heartwood and very much tougher, is an excellent material for T-squares and other drawing instruments, for shuttles, bobbins, spindles, golf-club heads and shafts, axe, pick, and hammer handles, etc.
Seed - it has a very short viability and so should be sown as soon as possible. The flesh should be removed since this contains germination inhibitors. Sow the seed in a shady position in a nursery seedbed. The sowing media for ebony uses soil and fine sand at the ratio 3:1. The seed is planted horizontally or vertically with the radicle end down, with a sowing depth of 1 - 1½ times the thickness of seed. Distance between the seeds is 3 - 5cm. Seeds are very sensitive to desiccation during germination and early growth, so must be regularly watered at this time. Normally the seed will germinate after one week. In one trial, fresh seed, sown one day after collection, showed 85% germination rate within 17 - 65 days. As a rule fresh seeds have a high percentage of fertility. The seedlings develop long taproots at an early stage, often before any appreciable elongation of the shoot takes place. The growth of the seedling is decidedly slow.