Alstonia scholaris

Alstonia scholaris R. Br. (Apocynaceae)

Syn : Echites scholaris L., E. pala Ham.

English names: Devil's tree, Dita bark.

Sanskrit names: Saptaparni, Saptaparna, Sarada, Vishalalvaka, Vishamachhda, Ayugmaparna, Gandhiparna, Payasya, Jivani, Kshalrya, Madagandha, Grahashi, Grahanashana.

Vernacular names: Asm : Chatiar; Ben: Chhatim; Hin : Chatian, SaIni chatian; Kan : Saptaparna, Maddale, Kodale, Elele kale, Janthalla, Hale; Ken: SantnarUkh; Mal: Ezhilampala, Mukkampala, Pala; Mar: Salvin; Ori : Chhatiana, Chhanchania; Silgandha; Pun: Satona; Sin: Rukattana; Tam: Elilaipillai, Mukumpalei, Pala, Wedrase; Tel: Eda kula, Pala garuda.

Trade names: Chatiyan, Shaitan wood, Saptaparni.

Traditional use: MUNDAS OF CHOTANAGPUR : Bark: in colic pain; SOME PARTS OF INDIA: Plant: used in the treatment of leprosy; Twig: hung in the room of the newly confined woman to lessen the activities of evil spirit on the new born.

ATHARVA VEDA: preventive and curative of diseases caused by change of season. CHARAKA SAMHITA and SUSHRUTA SAMHITA: good for headache, sores, and some other diseases; A YURVEDA : the following uses are recommended: (i) Bark: dermal so"res, ragging fever, discharge of sperm with urine, hiccup, insufficiency in breast milk, gout, cold congestion, dyspepsia; (ii) Latex: caries, pimple, pyorrhoea; (iii) Flower: asthma, respiratory troubles.

UNANI: Ingredient of 'Kashim'.

HOMOEOPATHY: Malarial fever, anaemia, indigestion, general debility and other stomach ailments.

Modern use: Bark: known in commerce as Dita bark and is used in medicine as bitter, febrifuge and astringent, in treatment of malarial fever, chronic dysentery, diarrhoea and in snake bite; Milky juice: applied to ulcers.

Phytography: Large (20 m high, 3 m girth), evergreen tree with straight, often fluted and buttressed base, branches whorled, bark yellow inside and exudes milky bitter latex; leaves simple, whorled-usually 7 in a whorl, coriaceous, whitish beneath, obovate or elliptic or oblong, obtuse rounded or obtusely acuminate, 30-60 pairs of horizontal veins joining an intramarginal one; cymes peduncled or sessile, umbellately branched; flowers aromatic, 0.8-1.25 cm in diameter, greenish white, pubescent; follicles 30-60 cm long and 0.3 cm in diameter, pendulous, in clusters.

Phenology: Flowering: Autumn; Fruiting: Winter.

Distribution: Throughout moist regions of India, especially in West Coast forests, in the Himalaya it ascends up to 1000 m; also found in Bangladesh and Pakistan. Planted in the gardens.

Ecology and cultivation: Also grown as an ornamental.

Chemical contents: Root and Root-bark: echitamine chloride, α-amyrin, lupeol-OAc, stigmasterol, β-sitosterol, campesterol, alkamicine-its Nb-oxide and Nb-metttiodide, γ-akummicine, Nb-di-Me-echitamine, tubotaiwine; Stem-bark: hydrochloride of echitam­ine, echitamidine, a glyceride of venotarpine, sterols, two isomeric lactones; Latex: caoutchouc and resins; Leaf: picrinine, nareline, akuammidine, picralinal, akuammigine, betulin, ursolic acid, β-sitosterol, flavonoids, phenolic acids, scholarine; Flower: picrinine, strictamine, tetrahydroalstonine, n-hexacosane, lupeol, β-amyrin, palmitic acid, ursolic acid.

Adulterants: Alstonia macrophylla Wall. and A. venenata R. Br. are used as substitute for A. scholaris.