There are about 40 species in the Ebony family (Diospyros spp.), but only a few produce enough of the dark-colored heartwood to be of any economic importance. The Ebony of West Africa (D. crassiflora and D. piscatoria) is the most commercially valuable, but comes from fairly small trees.
The color of Ebony can be variated light and dark, to a uniform jet-black. The uniform colored Ebony, also called "jet-black ebony" or Gaboon Ebony is part of the D. crassiflora family. The more widely lighter striped Ebony is characteristic of Macassar Ebony (Diospyros melanoxylon), sometimes called East Indian Ebony.
Ebony is very fine textured, and extremely hard and heavy. It averages about 63 pounds per cubic foot. It has a tendency to split and warp. It is best worked with metal working equipment because of it's hardness. Ebony is is used primarily for small parts of musical instruments, carvings, wood turnings and inlay work.