Herbs & Plants

Alstonia scolaris

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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

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


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Herbs & Plants

Aggor (Aquillaria agallocha)

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Botanical Name: Aquilaria malaccensis
Family:    Thymelaeaceae
Genus:    Aquilaria
Species:    A. malaccensis
Kingdom:    Plantae
Order:    Malvales

Synonym:  Aquilaria agallocha roxb

Common Names:Agarwood, Oud, Oodh or Agar,Lignum Aloe, Aguru, Ch’En Hsiang, Ch’Ing Kuei Hsiang, Chan Hsiang, Chen Xiang, Chi Ku Hsiang, Huang Shu Hsiang

Bengali/Vernacular Name: Agar, Agru

Habitat :  It is found in Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand. It is threatened by habitat loss

Aquillaria agallocha is a moderate-size evergreen tree  with a conical crown when young. Height of this plant is around 60-80 feet and leaves 5-8.7 cm long, linear-lanceolate to lanceolate. Flowers rather small, greenish on shortly peduncled umbels, arising laterally from the younger branches. Capsules 3.7-5 cm, obovate-cuneate, slightly compressed. It occurs sporadically in the forest of Hill Tracts region of India,Nepal and Bangladesh.


Cultivation method: Usually seeds of this plant are used for propagation. Aggor plants are grows well in a sloping area of Hill Tracts region.

Chemical Constituents:
Principal constituent of the wood is an essential oil, which contains agarospirol. Wood also contains a chromone, agarotetrol, 1,7-oxaporphine, liriodenine and two sesqiuterpenes, gmelofuran and agarol. Stem bark contains two cytotoxic compounds (Asolkar et al., 1992). The neuroleptic compounds, jinkoheremol and agarospirol have been isolated from the benzene extract of the wood (Ghani, 2003).

Medicinal Uses:
Wood is heating, alterative tonic, carminative, laxative, stomachic, diuretic, aphrodisiac and febrifuge; useful in diseases of ear and skin, hiccup, leucoderma, chronic diarrhoea, bronchitis, asthma. The fragrant resinous substance is prescribed in gout and rheumatism. The bark is used for heart disease in Khagrachari. Decoction of wood is used as medicine for febrifuge, stomachic, diuretic, aphrodisiac, carminative, laxative and tonic. It is also very effective in various skin disease, bronchitis, asthma and rheumatism.

Other Uses:    Powdered from wood of this plant is used as perfume.

The agarwood is very popular as ‘the wood of the Gods’, It is because of its uses range from incense for religious ceremonies, perfume for the Arabic world, medicinal wine in Korea and ornamental functions in China. As a healthy tree the Aquilaria is worth next to nothing, but wounded its defence mechanisms produce agarwood and the tree becomes a valuable commodity. Today the range of agarwood products and their uses is seemingly endless. Natural art Solid pieces of agarwood are highly appreciated as ‘natural art’ in Japan, Korea and Taiwan. Craftsmen carve raw pieces of agarwood into beautiful wooden sculptures . Agarwood is also turned into beads and bracelets. Most of the wood, however, is processed and either turned into oil which is used in perfumes and other cosmetic products, or the agarwood chips are ground into powder which is used as the raw material for incense making (and sometimes also for special cigarettes).

The oil is also used in the production of traditional medicine as anti-asthma antitoxic, antioxidant, hypertension (anti-stress), hepatitis, sirosis, diuretic, painkiller, and many other diseases.
It is because of the aromatic smell of some composition of oils as reported by some scientists there are dihydroagarofuran and isodihydroagarofuran ; sesquiterpene, agarol and a couinarinolignan, aquillochin; sesquiterpene alcohols, jinkohol II and jinkoheremol; agarospirol, jinkohol-eremol and kusenol.

This is why agarwood or gaharu so expensive. The high price of this woody species actually is corelated to the resin or so called “Gubal”. This resin looks like a dark brown to black solid lump or a chunk with a fragrant smell (if burned), which is found in the heartwood or roots of gaharu-producing trees undergoing a chemical and physical change due to fungus infection (as mentioned by Dr. Devang Pandya) . The trees frequently become infected with a parasite fungus or mold, and begin to produce an aromatic resin in response to this attack. So, not all plants can produce the resin because it depends on the attack. The fungus and decomposition process continue to generate a very rich and dark resin forming within the heartwood. While the unaffected wood of the tree is relatively light in color & almost useless, the resin dramatically increases the mass and density of the affected wood, changing its color from a pale beige to dark brown or black. In natural forest only as rare as 7% of the trees are infected by the fungus in natural way. Thus, agarwood develops very, very slowly over time, typically several hundred years. However, nowadays people inpurposely develop agarwood plantation using fungi-forming gaharu injection on the hole of the trunk for fast harvest.

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.