Alstonia scholaris

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Alstonia scholaris
Indian Devil tree (Alstonia scholaris)
Conservation status
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Asterids
Order: Gentianales
Family: Apocynaceae
Tribe: Plumeriae
Subtribe: Alstoniinae
Genus: Alstonia
Species: A. scholaris
Binomial name
Alstonia scholaris
L. R. Br.

Alstonia scholaris (Apocynaceae, commonly called Blackboard tree, Indian devil tree, Ditabark, Milkwood pine, White cheesewood and Pulai (Bengali:ছাতিম; Assamese:চতিয়না); syn. Echites scholaris L. Mant., Pala scholaris L. Roberty) is an evergreen, tropical tree native to the Indian subcontinent and Indomalaya, Malesia and Australasia.


Leaves and flowers in Kolkata, West Bengal, India
Devil Tree (Alstonia Scholaris) blossom in October 2014 - Mumbai, India
Arrangement of leaves
Alstonia scholaris in the IIT Kanpur campus
Close-up of bark in Hong Kong

The Alstonia scholaris is a glabrous tree and grows up to 40 m tall, its mature bark is grayish and its young branches are copiously marked with lenticels.

The upperside of the leaves are glossy, while the underside is greyish.[2] 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.

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.[3] The bark is almost odourless and very bitter, with abundant bitter and milky sap.


Alstonia scholaris is native to the following regions:[4]

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

In Theravada Buddhism, Alstonia scholaris is said to have used as the tree for achieved enlightenment, or Bodhi by first Lord Buddha called "Thanhankara - තණ්හංකර". The plant is known as රුක් අත්තන in Sinhala.

Alstonia scholaris in Bagh-e-Jinnah, Lahore


Alstonia or devil tree or Saptaparni is genus of evergreen trees or shrubs with white funnel-shaped flowers and milky sap.

The wood of Alstonia scholaris has been recommended for the manufacture of pencils, as it is suitable in nature and the tree grows rapidly and is easy to cultivate.[5] In Sri Lanka its light wood is used for coffins. In Borneo the wood close to the root is very light and of white color, and is used for net floats, household utensils, trenchers, corks, etc.[6]

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.[citation needed] The Milky juice of the tree is applied to ulcers.[7][unreliable source?]

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.[2] Ayurveda recommends A. scholaris for bowel complaints.[citation needed]


The bark contains the alkaloids ditamine, echitenine and echitamine.[citation needed]

Extracts prepared from the plant have been reported to possess cytotoxic activity.[citation needed] Chemical compounds include alkaloids and flavonoids 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.[medical citation needed] This extract also showed cytotoxic activity to HeLa cells.[8][9] It contains echitamine and loganin as major compounds and could potentially be used as an anti-irritation agent.[10]


  1. ^ World Conservation Monitoring Centre (1998). "Alstonia scholaris". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.1. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 19 November 2013. 
  2. ^ a b retrieved on 29 June 2007
  3. ^ retrieved on 29 June 2007
  4. ^ John H. Wiersema. "Alstonia scholaris (L.) R. Br.". Retrieved 2012-03-30. 
  5. ^ Tonanont, N. Wood used in pencil making. Vanasarn 1974 Vol. 32 No. 3 pp. 225-227
  6. ^ "retrieved on 29 June 2007". Retrieved 2012-03-30. 
  7. ^ [1][dead link]
  8. ^ Time to create page: 0.18 seconds. "IN VITRO CYTOTOXICITY ASSAY OF ALSTONIA SCHOLARIS. Misra Chandra Shekhar, Pratyush Kumar, James Joel, Sagadevan Lipin Dev Mundur, Veettil Arun Kumar Thaliyil, V Thankamani". Retrieved 2012-03-30. 
  9. ^ "Effect of Alstonia scholaris in Enhancing the Anticancer Activity of Berberine in the Ehrlich Ascites Carcinoma-Bearing Mice". doi:10.1089/1096620041224094. Retrieved 27 May 2013. 
  10. ^ Lee, Soo-Jin; Cho, Sun-A; An, Su-Sun; Na, Yong-Joo; Park, Nok-Hyun; Kim, Han-Sung; Lee, Chan-Woo; Kim, Han-Kon; Kim, Eun-Kyung (2012). "Alstonia scholaris R. Br. Significantly Inhibits Retinoid-Induced Skin Irritation in Vitro and in Vivo". Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2012: 1. doi:10.1155/2012/190370. PMC 3170789. PMID 21912567. 

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