Alstonia scholaris (L.) R. Br.

Etymology Genus After Dr Charles Alston, a professor of Botany
Species School; the wood is used to make writing boards for students
Family Apocynaceae
Synonyms Echites scholaris L.
Common Names Indian Pulai, Blackboard Tree, Dita Bark
Status Exotic: Casual
Form Tree
Native Distribution India subcontinent, China, Indochina, Malesia, Australia, Solomon Islands


It helps to first learn how Alstonia species look like. They have a straight trunk with pagoda branching, the leaves are arranged in a whorl, and have copious white sap when broken. Alstonia scholaris can be easily identified from the presence of its intrapetiolar stipule. This can be seen at the centre of the whorl or the ends of a fallen leaf.

Interesting Facts:

The Indian Pulai is mostly known for its pulai timber (Middleton, 2007). It is used for household items, quality paper, and fishing net floats. It is also used for making writing slates in schools, leading to its scientific name "scholaris" (Corner, 1997).

Alstonia scholaris has a straight trunk with pagoda branching.

The fruits are paired and elongated.

Whorled leaf arrangement. Notice the intrapetiolar stipules at the centre.

The end of a leaf stalk, showing the intrapetiolar stipule.

The inflorescence.


Corner EJH. (1997) Wayside Trees of Malaya. Volume 1. 4th edition. The Malaysian Nature Society, Kuala Lumpur. 476 pp.
Middleton DJ. (2007) Apocynaceae (Subfamilies Rauvolfioideae and Apocynoideae). Flora Malesiana, Volume 18. 474 pp.

Author: Jake
Posted: 2013-02-25 / Modified: 2017-12-25