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Diospyros egrettarum , Photo: Michael Lahanas

Classification System: APG IV

Superregnum: Eukaryota
Regnum: Plantae
Cladus: Angiosperms
Cladus: Eudicots
Cladus: Core eudicots
Cladus: Asterids
Ordo: Ericales

Familia: Ebenaceae
Genus: Diospyros
Species: Diospyros egrettarum
Name

Diospyros egrettarum I.Richardson, Kew Bull. 34: 731 (1980).
Synonyms

Heterotypic
Diospyros reticulata Sieber ex A.DC. in A.P.de Candolle, Prodr. 8: 236 (1844), not validly publ.

Distribution
Native distribution areas:

Continental:Africa
Regional:Mascareñas
Mauritius

References: Brummitt, R.K. 2001. TDWG – World Geographical Scheme for Recording Plant Distributions, 2nd Edition
References
Primary references

Richardson, I.B.K., 1980. Kew Bulletin 34: 731.

Links

Govaerts, R. et al. 2020. Diospyros egrettarum in World Checklist of Selected Plant Families. The Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Published on the internet. Accessed: 2020 Apr 07. Reference page.
Govaerts, R. et al. 2020. Diospyros egrettarum in Kew Science Plants of the World online. The Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Published on the internet. Accessed: 2020 Apr 07. Reference page.
International Plant Names Index. 2020. Diospyros egrettarum. Published online. Accessed: Apr 07 2020.
Tropicos.org 2020. Diospyros egrettarum. Missouri Botanical Garden. Published on the internet. Accessed: 2020 Apr 07.

Vernacular names

Diospyros egrettarum is a species of tree endemic to Mauritius and was once a dominant species throughout dry and coastal forests. Due to harvests for timber and firewood in the past the species was reduced to fewer than 10 individuals on the main land. The only viable population remained on Île aux Aigrettes,[2] a coral island off the east coast, where it was able to survive thanks to protective measures, such as the eradication of exotic plants and rats. The tree is named after this Island.

Morphology

Most characteristic feature of the tree is the white bark of the often multistemmed trees. They form rectangular leathery leaves of dark colour with thick waxy cuticles. This species closest relative is Diospyros leucomelas (and less so Diospyros revaughanii), and it shares with these species a leathery leaf surface, a rounded leaf-base, very short petiole, and short fruits. The forest reaches an average canopy height around 5–8 metres, likely the height is restricted by the shallow depth of soil (seldom >15 cm), the floor is covered by native monarch fern. If undisturbed, the forest is quite resilient to invasive plants.
Gallery

Detail of the dark, leathery, rectangular leaves

Pale colour of the trunks

The short, compact fruit and seeds

Dissection of Diospyros egrettarum trunk showing the valuable hard, black core.

Ecological value

Large rats predation on fruits and seedlings and might have reduce regeneration in the past. The fruits of the tree are eaten by numerous native and invasive species, such as the Telfair's Skink,[3] Pink Pigeon and Aldabra giant tortoise, all of which benefit the tree by dispersing and enhancing seed growth. New introduced giant Aldabra giant tortoise[4] help to disperse the seeds [5]

References

Page, W. (1998). "Diospyros egrettarum". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 1998: e.T30539A9561471. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.1998.RLTS.T30539A9561471.en. Retrieved 25 September 2021.
Parnell, John A. N.; Cronk, Q.; Jackson, P. Wyse; Strahm, W. (1989). "A Study of the Ecological History, Vegetation and Conservation Management of Ile aux Aigrettes (1989)". Journal of Tropical Ecology. 5 (4): 355–374. doi:10.1017/S0266467400003825. JSTOR 2559406. John A. N. Parnell, Q. Cronk, P. Wyse Jackson and W. Strahm. Journal of Tropical Ecology, 5(4):pp. 355-374
Cole, N., Jones, C. G., Buckland, S., Jhumka, Z., Mootoocurpen, R., Tatayah, V., ... & Roopa, P. (2009). The reintroduction of endangered Mauritian reptiles. Unpublished report, Mauritian Wildlife Foundation, Vacoas, Mauritius.
Griffiths et al., Resurrecting Extinct Interactions with Extant Substitutes, Current Biology (2011), doi:10.1016/j.cub.2011.03.042
Page, W. (1998). "Diospyros egrettarum". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 1998: e.T30539A9561471. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.1998.RLTS.T30539A9561471.en. Retrieved 25 September 2021.

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