Herbs & Plants

Polyalthia longifolia

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Botanical Name :Polyalthia longifolia
Species: P. longifolia

Common Names : Polyalthia longifolia’s common names include False Ashoka, the Buddha Tree, Indian mast tree, and Indian Fir tree. Its names in other languages include Ashoka or Devadaru in Sanskrit, Debdaru in Bengali and Hindi, Asopalav (Gujarati), Glodogan tiang (Indonesian), Devdar in marathi and Nettilinkam in Tamil, and araNamaram: (Malayalam). There are two important traditions associated with the tree in India (presumably in its full, untrimmed, form with spreading branches), one being of Sita taking shelter in the shade of Ashoka when in captivity (found in the Ramayana) and another that of the Ashoka tree requiring a kick from a beautiful woman on spring festival day before it would bloom (in the Malavikagnimitra, for example). However, these associations are linked to the real Ashoka tree not the false Ashoka tree (Polyalthia longifolia).

Habitat : Polyalthia longifolia is native to India and Sri Lanka. It is introduced in gardens in many tropical countries around the world. It is, for example, widely used in parts of Jakarta in Indonesia.

Polyalthia Longifolia  is  a evergreen, tall and slender tree grows symmetrically and produces fresh and shining green foliage. A Polyalthia Longifolia tree grows as tall as 12 meter. The entire length of the plant is covered by long and wavy leaves. The beautiful contrast of new golden and coppery brown leaves against old dark-green leaves make a spectacular show.

Mast-trees Polyalthia longifolia
Mast-trees Polyalthia longifolia (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Click to see the pictures:

Polyalthia Longifolia flowers during spring for a brief period (approximately two to three weeks). During this period, the entire tree is covered with small star-shaped flowers of pale green color. The flowers grow in clusters and attract birds and butterflies.Flowering is followed by egg-shaped fruits that are visited by bats and flying foxes.

The trunk of Polyalthia Longifolia has grey bark. Both the trunk and the bark are used in manufacturing of fiber. Timber is used for making boxes, pencils and long masts – that is why it is also known as the mast tree. In India and Sri Lanka, where the mast tree is held in high esteem, its leaves are used in religious ceremonies and for decorating arches and doorways.

Cultivation:Polyalthia Longifolia can be grown easily from seed or cuttings. It is a fast growing tree and requires good exposure to sunlight and moderate watering.

Chemical constituents:
Leaves have been reported to contain an azafluorene alkaloid, polylongine and three aporphine N-oxide alkaloids, (+)-O-methylbulbocapnine- ?-N-oxide,  (+)-O-methyl bulbocapnine- ?-N-Oxide and (+)-N-methylnandigerine- ?-N-oxide. Pentacyclic triterpenes, tarexasterol, stigmasterol, ?-sitosterol, campesterol, ?-amyrine and ?-amyrin have also been identified in the leaves. Clerodane diterpenoids have been isolated from the bark and seeds of this plant (Ghani, 2003). A new proanthocyanidin (I) along with ?-sitosterol and leucocyanidin have been isolated from stem bark (Rastogi & Mehrotra, 1993).

Medicinal Uses:
Plant pacifies vitiated vata, pitta, inflammation, fever, skin disease, diabetes, hypertension and worm infestation. Its bark is used as an adulterant for Saraca asoka.

The bark is used as a febrifuge in the treatment of fever. Alcoholic extract of the leaf possesses strong antifungal and antibacterial properties against wide range of pathogens (Taniya, 2004).

Other Uses:Polyalthia longifolia is a prime choice for land scaping. It can be prooned to beautiful shape & size.

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


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