Colin Mills, compiler of the Hortus Camdenensis, died in late November 2012 after a short illness. As he always considered the Hortus his legacy, it is his family's intention to keep the site running in perpetuity. It will not, however, be updated in the near future.

Diospyros lotus L.

Fully hardy, spreading deciduous tree with lance-shaped leaves, to 12cm long, and tiny, bell-shaped, red-tinged green flowers in summer, followed by inedible, spherical to ovoid, yellow to purple fruit, to 2cm across, on female plants.  To 10m.  [RHSE, Hortus, Hilliers’].

Horticultural & Botanical History

Cultivated in Europe since c.1596.  The fruit was in the past recommended as a cure for diarrhoea.  [Don]. Diospyros lotus is not a native of Europe but was probably introduced to Britain from Italy, hence the common name used by Macarthur.  ‘The European lotus, or Date Plum, is rather tender in Britain, but ripens its fruit in the south of France.  The Virginian Diospyros, of which Loudon says all the other American sorts are only varieties, is not unlike the European Lotus; it thrives best in damp peat, and is often much injured by frost.  In India many species are found, where they are remarkable for the hardness of the wood.’  [JD].  Saint-Hilaire Tr. pl.125/1825.

History at Camden Park

First mentioned in the 1843 catalogue and also listed in 1845 and 1850, but obtained again from Kew Gardens, brought out from England by Captain P. P. King in 1849.  Macarthur indicated that it was not new to the colony.  [ML A1980-3].  A Diospyros sp. still grows in the gardens.


  • Diospyros lotus Blanco (1837) = Diospyros multiflora Blanco
  • Diospyros lotus Lour. (1790) = Diospyros loureiriana G.Don

Published Mar 12, 2009 - 05:19 PM | Last updated Jul 17, 2010 - 04:56 PM

Illustrated are the lance-shaped leaves and tiny, bell-shaped, red-tinged green flowers.  Saint-Hilaire Tr. pl.125, 1825.

Diospyros lotus L. | Saint-Hilaire Tr. pl.125/1825 | BHL

Family Ebenaceae
Region of origin

South west Asia to China

Common Name

Date plum

Name in the Camden Park Record

Diospyrus lotus - European Date-plum 

Confidence level high