Diospyros australis

Black Plum / Yellow Persimmon

Family: Ebenaceae

A medium-sized tree, reaching 20 metres or less with a canopy spread of several metres and a trunk diameter of 0.25 m. It is often seen as a shrub in rainforest environments.  

It is found naturally from Durras Lake near Batemans Bay on the south coast of New South Wales, extending commonly northwards to the Queensland border; extending west to dry rainforest areas in the Hunter Valley (Murrurundi and Wingen) and just east of Armidale. It extends, commonly, northwards up the Queensland coast to around Rockhampton and then occurs disjunctly around Mackay, Cairns and possibly the Cape York Peninsula. It also occurs disjunctly in Carnarvon National Park (several hundreds of kilometres west of Bundaberg).

It is typically found in rainforest habitats from warm temperate to littoral, subtropical and tropical as well as inland dry rainforest. 

The base of the tree typically lacks flanges or buttresses. The bark is smooth grey to dark grey, with wrinkles, bumps and lines. 

Diospyros spp. have simple leaves, arranged alternately and described as “2-ranked” where alternate “pairs” of leaves are consistently present and spaced. In this species, leaves are elliptic to oblong, to 10 cm long to 4 cm wide, with a blunt apex, glossy-green above and very differently pale-green to yellow-green below with sparse hairs; leaves with an overall firm and leathery texture. The upper surface of leaves (especially in younger plants) tend to have scattered dark blue dots – a very useful identification feature; the appearance of the lower surface of the leaves (colour) is also very useful for identification.

Diospyros spp. have flowers arranged in axillary clusters, with separate male and female plants (dioecious). Flowers can be 3-5 merous, with sepals, petals and usually twice as many stamens as sepals (in male flowers). In this species, flowers are 4-meours, not overly showy, but with 4 white to cream or green-cream petals, sometimes with yellow tinges; each flower around 5 mm across; male flowers are produced in clusters; female flowers may be solitary or in clusters of up to 3 and usually larger than male flowers; produced mainly in October to December.

Diospyros spp. have a berry. In this species, the berries generally mature in the months of February to July, elliptical in shape, to 20 mm in length. The 4-lobed green calyx persists around the base of the berry. A single seed is in each fruit, surrounded by edible purple aril. 

In the garden

This tree is known to be cultivated and does well in cultivation. The foliage is attractive combined with the dark grey trunk. 

It grows best on enriched soil, with some organic matter added, in part sun or even heavy shade. Needs some water to get established but is then quite hardy. 

Fruit is edible.

This plant is available commercially.

It may not be suited to small gardens but could be kept smaller with pruning. It would make a nice backyard specimen tree and street tree. 


Germination from fresh seed is slow, but reliable. After three months, the majority of seeds should germinate.

Other information

Diospyros australis may be affected by fire in some habitats. It can likely regenerate from seed. It may be eliminated from habitats by too hot or too frequent fires.

Diospyros is a genus of over 700 species of trees and shrubs. The majority are native to the tropics, with only a few species extending into temperate regions. Diospyros kaki is the commonly cultivated Persimmon.

This genus is the only representative of the Ebenaceae family in Australia. There are 15 species in Australia, found in New South Wales, Queensland, Western Australia and Northern Territory. NSW currently has 5 species. 

The edible berries of this species are used in bushfood by First Nations People of Australia.

Diospyrosfrom Greek diospyros (διόσπυρος), from diós (Διός) – meaning “heavenly”, “divine” or “noble” and pyrós (πῡρός) which can mean “wheat” but can also be used to mean “fire” or “fire-coloured” – possibly referring to the colour of the persimmon fruit.  

australisLatin for “southern” – the part of the world where it is found.

This species is not considered to be at risk of extinction in the wild. 

NSW Flora Online (PlantNET) – Diospyros australis profile page: https://plantnet.rbgsyd.nsw.gov.au/cgi-bin/NSWfl.pl?page=nswfl&lvl=sp&name=Diospyros~australis

Wrigley, J.W. & Fagg, M.I. (2013). Australian Native Plants – Propagation, cultivation and use in landscaping. 6th edition. Reed New Holland Publishers, Pty. Ltd. Australia; profile page 549 for Diospyros australis

Plants of South Eastern New South Wales – LUCID Online Website / App – Diospyros australis profile page: https://apps.lucidcentral.org/plants_se_nsw/text/entities/diospyros_australis.htm

Growing Illawarra Natives – Diospyros australis profile page https://finder.growingillawarranatives.org/plants/plant/184

By Dan Clarke and Jeff Howes.