Taxonomic Studies of Diospyros (Ebenaceae) from the Malagasy Region. VII. Revision of Diospyros sect. Forbesia in Madagascar and the Comoro Islands

Keywords: Ebony, IUCN Red List, lectotypifications, Madagascar, Mayotte, new species, revision


A recent molecular phylogenetic study revealed that Diospyros L. sect. Forbesia F. White, originally circumscribed to encompass two species from Africa and several from the Mascarene Islands (White, 1980), also includes a group of species endemic to Madagascar. The taxonomy of the Malagasy members of the section has not been examined since Perrier de la Bâthie’s 1952 treatment in the Flore de Madagascar et des Comores, and in the intervening seven decades, numerous specimens have been collected that cannot be identified based on the key provided. This revision presents a significantly updated taxonomy of Diospyros sect. Forbesia in the Malagasy region in which 18 species are recognized, 14 of which are newly described and illustrated, including one new species restricted to Mayotte Island in the Comoro archipelago. An identification key is provided as well as IUCN risk of extinction assessments, which indicate that two species are Critically Endangered, four are Endangered, and seven are Vulnerable, while one is Near Threatened and four are Least Concern. A full description is provided for each species, along with color photos; each of the new species is also illustrated with a line drawing.