Common name: Dita bark, Devil tree • Hindi: शैतान का झाड Shaitan ka jhar , Chitvan चितवन (• Marathi: Satvin • Malayalam: Daivappala • Tamil: ஏழிலை பிள்ளை Ezilai piLLai முகும்பலை mukumpalai • Bengali: Chattim • Sanskrit: सप्तपर्ण Saptaparna
Botanical name: Alstonia scholaris Family: Apocynaceae (oleander family)
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
It is a tall elegant tree with greyish 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 dysentry and fever. On the Western Ghats, tribal people are
reluctant to sit or pass under this tree, for the fear of the devil.