Devil’s Tree

Quite a few numbers of this tree are their in our colony. It is called Devil tree, Alstonia Scholaris. These are in prime condition, quite tall. They become very much noticeable when they bear the flowers which have very strong scent. It becomes very difficult to breath because of the choking scent which seems to solidify the scent. Many children develop the breathing difficulties. This elegant evergreen tree is found in most parts of India. The generic name commemorates the distinguished botanist, Prof. C. Alston of Edinburgh, 1685-1760. The species name scholaris refers to the fact that the timber of this tree has traditionally been used to make wooden slates for school children. Its is commonly known as the Devil Tree, as it is considered to be the abode of the devil, in popular imagination. In October small, green yet fragrant flowers appear. All parts of the tree can be considered poisonous. It is a tall elegant tree with grayish rough bark. Branches are whorled, and so are the leaves, that is, several of them coming out of the same point. The tree is really elegant whether it is flowering or not. The slightly rounded, leathery, dark green leaves form whorls of 4-7. And a very regular branching gives the tree a beautiful shape. The wood is too soft for making anything – so it is usually used in making packing boxes, blackboards etc. Its bark, known as Dita Bark, is used in traditional medicine to treat dysentery and fever. On the Western Ghats, tribal people are reluctant to sit or pass under this tree, for the fear of the devil.

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