Botanical Name: Alstonia scholaris
Synonyms: Echites scholaris L. Mant., Pala scholaris L. Roberty
Common Name: Blackboard tree, Indian devil tree, Ditabark, Milkwood pine, White cheesewood and Pulai
Seeds collection period: May
Seed longevity: 1year
Alstonia scholaris is a medium to large tree, to about 40 m high with a somewhat tessellated corky grey to grey-white bark. The boles of larger trees are strongly fluted to 10 m. The outer blaze is cream to yellowish in colour with abundant, milky latex that flows rapidly when cut. The tip of the leaf is rounded or shortly pointed, tapering towards the base.
The trees are often deciduous at irregular intervals. They do not flower at every leaf-change, but only after marked periods of dry weather. The large branches provide favourable nesting sites for wild bees. Pollination is by insects; when flowering, butterflies and bees often surround trees. The fruits open on the tree and the seeds, which have a tuft of silky hairs at each end, are dispersed by wind.
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. 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.
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.
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.