African Ebony (Diospyros mespiliformis) is also called the Jackal Berry, and generally found near rivers and wet-lands in sub-tropical African regions.

Family: Ebenaceae.

Scientific Name: Diospyros mespiliformis

Common names: African Ebony, Jackal Berry.


Description: The Jackal Berry is one of the largest and most majestic berry-bearing trees found in Africa, and one of the often seen trees in the northern Namibia (Mahango) and Botswana (Okavango Delta and Chobe) sub-tropical regions, and generally common to river and water-rich areas.

The stem generally forked in two, and reach up to 1,5 meters in diameter and could reach up to 25 m in height. The heart-wood is dark, and not as black as "real" Ebony.

The leaves are shiny dark green and about 8 x 2.5 cm in size. From December to January the tree have creamy-white flowers near the end of the branches.

Medical uses: The roots, leaves and fruits contain tannin and act as an antibiotic, and are used for traditional medicinal purposes treating various disorders such as skin eruptions, acne and sores.

Superstition uses: None recorded.

Nutritive uses: People, animals and birds eat the ripe yellow-green berries. animals. The berries is about 2cm in diameter, green at first, and become yellow when ripe.

Other uses: Boiled bark yields a black dye.

Interesting Facts: Till a few years ago, large Jackal Berry trees was traditionally used to make wooden canoes (Okavango makoro). In Botswana this was stopped with the introduction of fibre-glass canoes, developed by an conservationist from the Guma Lagoon region.

Credits: Christian Fouri.