An Eco-sustainable World
ArborealSpecies Plant

Diospyros blancoi

Diospyros blancoi

The elvet apple or velvet persimmon, kamagong, mabola tree, (Diospyros blancoi A.DC., 1844) is an arboreal species belonging to the Ebenaceae family.

Systematic –
From a systematic point of view it belongs to:
Eukaryota domain,
Kingdom Plantae,
Division Magnoliophyta,
Class Magnoliopsida
Ebenales Order,
Ebenaceae family,
Genus Diospyros,
Species D. blancoi.
The terms are synonymous:
– Cavanillea mabolo (Roxb. ex Lindl.) Hiern;
– Cavanillea mabolo Lam., 1794;
– Cavanillea mabolo Poir.;
– Cavanillea philippensis Desr.;
– Cavanillea philippinensis Desr.;
– Diospyros discolor Willd.;
– Diospyros durionoides Bakh.;
– Diospyros mabola Roxb., 1814;
– Diospyros mabolo (Poir.) Roxb.;
– Diospyros mabolo (Poir.) Roxb. ex Lindl.;
– Diospyros mabolo Roxb. ex J.V.Thomps.;
– Diospyros malacapai A.DC.;
– Diospyros merrillii Elmer;
– Diospyros philippensis (Desr.) Gürke;
– Diospyros philippensis (Desr.) M.R.Almeida, 2001;
– Diospyros utilis Hemsl.;
– Embryopteris discolor (Willd.) G.Don;
– Mabola edulis Raf..

Etymology –
The term Diospyros comes from ancient Greek. “Dios” means “divine” or “of the gods”, while “pyros” means “grain” or “fruit”. Together, the genus name roughly translates as “divine grain” or “fruit of the gods”, reflecting the presence of many edible fruits in the genus.
The specific epithet blancoi is in honor of the 19th century Spanish botanist Francisco Manuel Blanco, who contributed significantly to the knowledge of the flora of the Philippines, where it is common to find the plant in question.

Geographic Distribution and Habitat –
Diospyros blancoi is a widely distributed plant native to Borneo, the Philippines, but is also native to eastern and southern Taiwan. It has also been introduced to other parts of Southeast Asia, the Pacific Islands, South Asia, the Caribbean, Florida and other tropical regions.
Its habitat is that of humid forests up to about 800 m above sea level.

Description –
Diospyros blancoi is a dioecious evergreen tree (although monoecious forms have been observed) that grows up to about 30 m in old specimens in nature.
The trunk has a diameter of 30-60 cm, with dark brown bark and dense foliage with greyish branches that are initially pubescent, then glabrous.
The leaves are borne by a 0.5-2 cm long petiole; they are alternate, simple, oblong-lanceolate with a pointed and curved apex, 10-25 cm long and 5-11 cm wide, leathery, dark green in color and shiny above, silvery gray in color and pubescent below; the young leaves are pink in color.
The female flowers are solitary, grow in an axillary position, about 1.2 cm in diameter, with a tubular calyx about 1 cm long, deeply divided into 4 ovate lobes, 0.7 cm wide, of a yellowish green color and covered with dense hair grey-brown, persistent in fruit, funnel-shaped corolla of creamy white colour, about 1.5 cm long, with 4 retroflexed ovate lobes and 4-10 staminodes.
The male flowers form in axillary cymes, slightly smaller than the female ones, with 12-15 stamens bifurcating at the apex.
The fruit is a slightly flattened globular berry, 8-10 cm in diameter, reddish in color when ripe and covered with thick, short yellowish-brown hair. The pulp is whitish, firm, dry, astringent, rather pleasant.
Inside there are 0-8 clove-shaped seeds on average 4 cm long, 2.5 cm wide and 1.5 cm thick, dark brown in colour.

Cultivation –
Diospyros blancoi is a tropical tree, with high genetic variability, which grows well in a variety of soils, from sea level to 800 meters above sea level. Seed trees are normally planted 10–15 meters apart;
It requires a good distribution of rainfall throughout the year. Trees planted by seed can take 6 or 7 years to bear fruit, but trees propagated by cuttings produce fruit in 3 to 4 years.
The tree is sometimes grown for its fruit and wood in the tropics, most commonly as a yard tree, and is also often used as a shade tree along roadsides.
It is also grown as an ornamental plant, prized for its attractive-looking leaves and fruit.
For its cultivation, keep in mind that it is a plant of humid tropical lowland areas, where it grows well in areas with a monsoon climate from sea level up to 800 meters above sea level.
Mature trees can tolerate a light frost for short periods and prefer a position in full sun.
In general it is an easy growing plant, which succeeds on almost all soils and requires very little attention. The trees are very wind resistant and even resist typhoons.
However, it is a rather slow growing tree, it can take 3 years before the seedlings are ready to be transplanted into the open field.
To date the fruits, however, lack sweetness and are rather dry, making them less popular than many other tropical fruits. Unless cultivars are developed that produce sweet, juicy fruit, it will remain a minor crop.
There are seedless cultivars and those with low tannin content of the fruit.
For its plant, keep in mind that it is usually a dioecious species, even if monoecious forms have been observed. For this reason, male specimens must be planted close to female plants if you want to produce fruit.
The plant reproduces by seed, which does not have a long duration of germination, previously kept in water for 2 days, in draining organic soil kept constantly humid at a temperature of 24-28 °C, with germination times of 4-8 weeks and first fruiting after 6-7 years; to reproduce a particular variety, cutting, layering and grafting are used.

Customs and Traditions –
Diospyros blancoi is a plant known by various names; among these we report: butter fruit, mabola-tree, mabolo persimmon, velvet persimmon, velvet-apple (English); mao shi, tai wan shi, yi se shi (Chinese); kamagong, mabolo, mabulo (Filipino); pommier velours (French); ke gaki (Japanese); belanti gab (Hindi); bisbul, buah lemah, buah mentega, buah sagalat, kamagong, kayu mentega (Malay); pécego-de-Índia (Portuguese); camagón (Spanish); ma-rit (Thai); hong nhung (Vietnamese).
The edible fruits are prized in some areas, but are little known in most of the world.
The tree also produces valuable wood which is used locally and traded, especially in the form of carvings. This is one of 33 species named as suitable Hongmu (red wood) timber, used for the production of high-quality Chinese furniture following the traditions of the Ming and Quing Dynasty.
This plant is little known outside its areas of origin, where it is widespread in nature and also in cultivation, particularly in the Philippines, for ornamental purposes, for its foliage, fragrant flowers and attractive fruits, and as a shade tree in parks and gardens and along roads, as well as for windbreaks, given its particular resistance to strong winds.
It is also cultivated for its fruits, eaten raw, without the peel which has an unpleasant odor and whose hair can cause irritation in sensitive people, in salads, boiled or fried, and for its wood, which is almost black in colour, particularly hard and compact. , with which fine furniture, everyday and artistic objects, tools and musical instruments are manufactured.
The leaves of this plant have been shown to contain isoarborinol methyl ether (also called cylindrical) and fatty esters of α- and β-amyrin. Both isoarborinol methyl ether and amyrin mixture have demonstrated antimicrobial activity against Escherichia coli, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Candida albicans, Staphylococcus aureus, and Trichophyton mentagrophytes. Anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties of the isolated amyrin mixture have also been demonstrated.
From an ecological point of view, this plant is unfortunately endangered and protected by Philippine law: it is illegal to export kamagong timber from the country without a special permit from the Bureau of Forestry, Department of Environment and Natural Resources.
Among other uses, it is reported that this plant is sometimes used as a rootstock for Diospyros kaki.
The fresh wood is said to act as an insect repellent.
The heartwood is striated and mottled, sometimes almost dead black; it is clearly delimited by the up to 20 cm wide band of reddish or pink sapwood. Sometimes the sapwood takes on a more or less greyish colour.
The wood is smooth and durable and is widely used in the Philippines for making handicrafts.
The wood is also used as striped ebony, especially for carvings and particular furniture. It has a fine, smooth and (especially in the heartwood) very dense texture; the fiber is generally very straight. The wood is hard to very hard; heavy to very heavy; the sapwood is tough and flexible while the heartwood is fragile; the heartwood is very durable, the sapwood moderately durable. It is difficult to season well, logs almost invariably check in different directions from the core outwards, while sawn timber must be carefully stacked and weighted to avoid warping; once well dried, however, it becomes very stable. Its density makes it difficult to work with, but requires a nice surface under sharp tools.
Small trees, with little or no heartwood, are used locally for posts, beams, joists, rafters, sills, parts of agricultural implements, etc.; Furthermore, in the lumber industry, poles are used for skates due to their hardness, toughness and regular wear quality. Heartwood (or sometimes sap and heart together) is used for scabbards, barrels, grips, tool handles, rifle stocks, saw frames, etc.; It is a favorite for musical instruments, especially keyboards and guitar keys; furniture, cabinet making, inlay; paperweights, inkwells and similar desk articles; sapwood, which is almost as hard as heartwood and much tougher, is an excellent material for T-squares and other drafting tools, for shuttles, bobbins, mandrels, golf club heads and shafts, ax handles, picks and hammers, etc.
Wood is generally used for the construction of houses which include floors, posts, doors and windows, among others.

Preparation Method –
Diospyros blancoi is a plant whose fruits have a soft, creamy, pink pulp, with a taste and aroma comparable to those of peach.
The fruits are eaten cooked or raw.
The fruit has a strong, cheese-like odor and can be quite dry and astringent.
The aroma is mainly contained in the peel, which is normally removed before consuming the fruit. It is advisable to store it for 3 – 4 days after harvesting to allow for more complete maturation.
The pulp can also be cut into cubes and combined with that of other fruits in salads.
Some prefer to eat the unripe fruit, which is crunchy like an apple but juicier and sweeter.
The hairy peel is unpleasant and can cause mouth irritation: it must be removed before eating the fruit.
In his medicine, a decoction of the young leaves is prepared which is used as a treatment for hypertension, heart problems and diabetes.
The leaves are heated and squeezed with the leaves of Plectranthus amboinicus to obtain a preparation that is used to treat chest colds.
The bark is astringent; a decoction is used as a treatment against cough, fever, dysentery and diarrhea.
The bark and leaves are used as a cleanser to treat skin conditions such as itching but also as eye drops.
The juice of the bark and leaves is used to treat snake bites.
The juice of the unripe fruit is astringent. It is used as a wound cleanser.
An infusion of the fruit is used as a gargle in the treatment of aphthous stomatitis.
An oil extracted from the seeds is used as a treatment for diarrhea and dysentery.

Guido Bissanti

– Acta Plantarum – Flora of the Italian Regions.
– Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
– GBIF, the Global Biodiversity Information Facility.
– Useful Tropical Plants Database.
– Conti F., Abbate G., Alessandrini A., Blasi C. (ed.), 2005. An annotated checklist of the Italian vascular flora, Palombi Editore.
– Pignatti S., 1982. Flora d’Italia, Edagricole, Bologna.
– Treben M., 2000. Health from the Lord’s Pharmacy, Advice and experiences with medicinal herbs, Ennsthaler Editore.

Photo source:

Attention: Pharmaceutical applications and food uses are indicated for informational purposes only, they do not represent in any way a medical prescription; we therefore decline any responsibility for their use for healing, aesthetic or food purposes.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *