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Wood of several species of trees of the genus Diospyros (family Ebenaceae), found widely in the tropics. The best is very heavy, almost black, and from heartwood only. Because of its colour, durability, hardness, and ability to take a high polish, ebony is used for cabinetwork and inlaying, piano keys, knife handles, and turned articles. The best Indian and Ceylon ebony is produced by D. ebenum, which grows in abundance west of Trincomalee in Sri Lanka. Jamaica, American, or green ebony comes from Brya ebenus, a leguminous tree or shrub.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on ebony, visit Britannica.com.