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Tree to 14 m. Bark dark grey or greyish brown, flaking in large plates to reveal white underlayer. Branchlets sparsely villose to glabrescent. Leaves deciduous, 6.5–17 3.5–10 cm, oblong to oblong-lanceolate, occasionally obovate, both surfaces densely greyish yellow-pubescent, apex shortly acuminate, lateral veins five to seven per side; petiole 0.6–1.0 cm. Male flowers in axillary cymes of three to five, calyx densely pubescent, with four lobes; corolla c.0.8 cm, four-lobed with ciliate lobe tips. Female flowers solitary; calyx lobes four; corolla c.1.5 cm, lobes four, pubescent; staminodes 12–14; ovary villose. Fruit a yellow ovoid or rounded berry, to 4.5–7 5(–8) cm, pubescent, with persistent enlarged calyx at base. Flowering April to May, fruiting August to October (China). Li et al. 1996. Distribution CHINA: Anhui, Fujian, Guangdong, Guangxi, Hunan, Jiangxi, Zhejiang. Habitat Forests; altitude unrecorded. USDA Hardiness Zone 7b. Conservation status Not evaluated. Illustration Li et al. 1996.
Like several other Asian Diospyros, D. oleifera is a source of persimmon oil, expressed from unripe fruit and used for waterproofing purposes (Li et al. 1996). In this case, however, the ripe fruit does not seem to be edible. It is very rare in cultivation, although it has been commercially available in the past. Tom Hudson (pers. comm. 2007) acquired a tree from Mallet Court Nursery in 1992 but this has only slowly built up growth, probably as a consequence of the wood failing to ripen without sufficient warmth. It is now about 2 m tall. An older tree at the Hillier Gardens was a multistemmed bush of about 3 m in 2007. The large leaves are softly hairy.