A medium-sized tree to 25 m tall, native to dry deciduous forests in southern India and Sri Lanka, where it usually grows on rocky, poor soils with good drainage. The black, heavy and durable heartwood is one of the sources of the ebony of commerce and much used for the manufacture of chess pieces. The fruits are edible, aromatic and astringent and are sometimes sold in markets in India. The tree also has a number of applications in traditional medicine and the leaves are commonly used in India for wrapping bidis, a traditional Indian cigarette. Seeds should be soaked in cold water for a day before sowing.