Alstonia scholaris

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Photographs by: Dr. Maulik Gadani

  • Botanical Name : Alstonia scholaris (L.) R.Br.
  • The specific name scholaris came from the fact that in the olden days the wood was used for making school slates. Moreover, the tree is avoided by the animals because of its poisonous nature and hence is called Devil's Tree. It is called saptaparni because seven lance-shaped digitate leaflets arise from the end of the stalk of a palm shaped leaf.

  • Common Name : Saptaparni, Devil's Tree, Scholar
  • Plant Family : Apocynaceae
  • Plant Form : Tree
  • Occurrence (Sectors) : 1, 2, 5, 6, 8, 11, 13 - 15, 17, 20 - 25, 27
  • Occurrence (Special Areas) : Gujarat Forestry Research Foundation, Indroda Park, Ayurvedic Udyan, Sarita Udyan, Van Chetana Kendra, Infocity, Aranya Van

About Alstonia scholaris Plant :

  • Habit : Tall evergreen tree up to 18 m with bitter milky juice, glabrous except inflorescence.
  • Stem : Bark grey rough and yellowish from inside, branches whorled, young branches lenticellate, when he bark is injured a milky juice comes out.
  • Leaves : 4 - 7 in whorls, coriaceous, oblong - lanceolate, obtuse or bluntly acuminate, dark green above, pale and covered with whitish bloom beneath, base tapering, main nerves numerous, nearly horizontal, parallel, uniting in an intramarginal nerve.
  • Inflorescence : Capitate cymes.
  • Flowers :
    • Small, fragrant, greenish white, in umbellate, branched many - flowered, pubescent capitate cyme, peduncles 2.5 - 5 cm long, pedicels very short, bracts oblong, pubescent.
    • Calyx 0.3 cm, lobes oblong, obtuse, ciliate.
    • Corolla tube 0.8 cm long, villous inside, mouth with ring of hairs, lobes cuneate oblong, rounded or sub-truncate at the apex, pubescent.
    • Carpels pubescent.
  • Fruit : Follicles 30 - 60 cm long and 0.3 cm in diameter, cylindric, pendulous in clusters, become completely averted after dehiscence.
  • Seeds : 0.6 cm long, linear - oblong, flat, round with fringe of hairs at both ends.
  • Flowering and Fruiting time : December - March, May - July.
  • Significance :
    • The tree is often planted as an avenue plant and as ornamental in gardens.
    • The bark is used for treating asthma and heart ailments, fever and diarrhoea.
    • The bark is used to make writing pens - 'dita'.
    • The fruits are bitter in taste and are used as medicine against intestinal worms.