Alstonia scolaris

Botanical Name :Alstonia scolaris
Family: Apocynaceae
Tribe: Plumeriae
Subtribe: Alstoniinae
Genus: Alstonia
Species: A. scholaris
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Gentianales

Synonyms: Echites scholaris L. Mant., Pala scholaris L. Roberty

Common Names :Blackboard tree, Indian devil tree,Saptaparni, Ditabark, Milkwood pine, White cheesewood and Pulai

Bengali name: Chhatim

Habitat : Alstonia scholaris is native to the following regions

*China: Guangxi (s.w.), Yunnan (s.)
*Indian subcontinent: India; Nepal; Sri Lanka; Pakistan
*Southeast Asia: Cambodia; Myanmar; Thailand; Vietnam, Indonesia; Malaysia; Papua New Guinea; Philippines
*Australia: Queensland

It has also been naturalised in several other tropical and subtropical climates. Alstonia scholaris (Saptaparni in Bengali) is declared as the State Tree of West Bengal, India

Description:
Alstonia scholaris is an evergreen small tree that grows up to 40 m tall and is glabrous. The bark is greyish; branchlets are copiously lenticellate.The upperside of the leaves are glossy, while the underside is greyish. Leaves occur in whorls of 3-10; petioles are 1–3 cm; the leathery leaves are narrowly obovate to very narrowly spathulate, base cuneate, apex usually rounded; lateral veins occur in 25-50 pairs, at 80-90° to midvein. Cymes are dense and pubescent; peduncle is 4–7 cm long. Pedicels are usually as long as or shorter than calyx. The corolla is white and tube-like, 6–10 mm; lobes are broadly ovate or broadly obovate, 2-4.5 mm, overlapping to the left. The ovaries are distinct and pubescent. The follicles are distinct and linear.

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Flowers bloom in the month October. The flowers are very fragrant similar to the flower of Cestrum nocturnum.

Seeds of A. scholaris are oblong, with ciliated margins, and ends with tufts of hairs 1.5–2 cm. The bark is almost odourless and very bitter, with abundant bitter and milky sap.

Medicinal Uses:
Alstonia or devil tree or Saptaparni is genus of evergreen trees or shrubs with white funnel-shaped flowers and milky sap. In India the bark of Alstonia scholaris is used solely for medicinal purposes, ranging from Malaria and epilepsy to skin conditions and asthma.

There are 43 species of alstonia trees.  The bark of the tree is used medicinally in the Pacific Rim and India.

In Ayurveda it is used as a bitter and as an astringent herb for treating skin disorders, malarial fever, urticaria, chronic dysentery, diarrhea, in snake bite and for upper purification process of Panchakarma . The Milky juice of the tree is applied to ulcers.

The bark contains the alkaloids ditamine, echitenine and echitamine and used to serve as an alternative to quinine. At one time, a decoction of the bark was used to treat diarrhoea and malaria, as a tonic, febrifuge, emmenagogue, anticholeric and vulnerary. A decoction of the leaves were used for beriberi. Ayurveda recommends A. scholaris for bowel complaints. In Sri Lanka its light wood is used for coffins. In Borneo the wood close to the root is very light and of white colour, and is used for net floats, household utensils, trenchers, corks, etc. Extracts prepared from the plant has been reported to possess cytotoxic activity. The active compounds include alkaloids, flavonoids etc. These are present in all parts of the plant. An ethanol extract of the bark of Alstonia scholaris enhanced the anticancer activity of berberine in the Ehrlich ascites carcinoma-bearing mice. This extract also showed cytotoxic activity to HeLa cells. It contains echitamine and loganin as major compounds and could potentially be used as an anti-irritation agent.

Scientific investigation has failed to show why it is of such service in malaria, but herbalists consider it superior to quinine and of great use in convalescence .  It lowers fever, relaxes spasms, stimulates lactation and expels intestinal worms.  Used for chronic diarrhea, dysentery and in intermittent fever; also as an anthelmintic. It is also much used by homoeopaths.

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Disclaimer:The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider

Resources:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alstonia_scholaris
http://www.herbnet.com/Herb%20Uses_AB.htm

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