Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum

Alstonia scholaris (L.) R. Br.

Kingdom:Plantae
Phylum/Division:Magnoliophyta
Class:Eudicots
Order:Gentianales
Family:Apocynaceae
Genus:Alstonia
Species:A. scholaris
Common Names:Pulai
Status:Cultivated only

Description

A medium to fiarly large tree, it can develop to a height of 40 m and a trunk diameter of 125 cm. The trunk has massive buttresses. Leaves are simple, in whorls of 5-8, 7-17 cm long and elliptical. Flowers are about 1 cm long, in clusters, finely hairy on the outside and fragrant. Fruits are paired pods, 30-60 cm long and splitting to liberate the many small seeds.

Read more about the Gentianales order.
Read more about the Apocynaceae family.

Distribution

From Sri Lanka and India through mainland Southeast Asia and southern China, throughout Malesia, to northern Australia, the Bismarck Archipelago and the Solomon Islands.

Human Uses

This is the most important source of Pulai timber. The wood gives good quality pulp and earlier used for school blackboards in Java. The roots and bark are used in traditional medicine as an anthelmintic, astringent tonic, alterative, antidiarrhoeaticum, antiperiodicum, etc. The latex is used to clean wounds and can be used for chewing gum. The leaves can be used to treat skin diseases.

References

Chong, K. Y., H. T. W. Tan & R. T. Corlett, 2009. A Checklist of the Total Vascular Plant Flora of Singapore: Native, Naturalised and Cultivated Species. Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research, National University of Singapore, Singapore. 273 pp.

Soerianegara, I. & R. H. M. J. Lemmens (eds.) 1993. Plant resources of South-East Asia - No. 5(1): Timber trees: Major commercial timbers. Pudoc, Wageningen.  610 pp.

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