Seed of the Week: Texas Ebony

Our mystery legume seeds from last week were from the Texas ebony tree, Ebenopsis ebano (formerly Pithecellobium flexicaule).

texas-ebony-side-of-treeThe Texas ebony tree, as its name suggests, is originally from Texas, but it also does well as a landscape tree in Arizona. It is slow growing, eventually becoming good-sized tree.

texas-ebony-branchAnother common name is “ape’s earring” because of the large, persistent seed pods.

The tree is also known for its lovely dark green foliage, much darker than most desert trees.

texas-ebony-seed-podAn unusual characteristic of Texas ebony is that the branches change direction at each node, giving an up-down zig-zag appearance. It also has thorns.

texas-ebony-flowersThe flowers are creamy-white puffs, similar to acacia flowers.


The bark is gray and fissured.

So, why is the tree called Texas ebony? It turns out the heartwood is dark red to purplish, sometimes almost black, so it resembles ebony wood.

Have you ever seen a Texas ebony tree?

1 Comment

  1. Idel Garcia

    The Texas Ebony Tree seed pods are eatable when they are green and tender.
    The seed pods are pulled off, washed, and checked for no ant or insect damage. Place the pods in boiling water for an hour or in a plastic bag in the microwave for 10 minutes.
    They will crack open when they are done. Peel off the pod and you will find an ivory color soft shell covering. Wash and rinse with cool water and peel off the ivory cover. The ivory cover has an unpleasant taste but the inside is delicious, add lemon and salt to taste and enjoy.

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