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Characteristics of Blackboard Tree (Alstonia scholaris) in the Wild

Alstonia scholaris
Blackboard tree or Devil’s tree is a tree in the Apocynaceae family. This tree is native to southern China, tropical Asia, and Australasia.

This tree can grow to a height of 40 meters with loose leaves. The bark is grayish and the young branches are marked with lenticels.

Blackboard tree is easy to find in the following areas:

  • China: Guangxi and Yunnan
  • Indian subcontinent: Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka
  • Southeast Asia: Cambodia, Laos, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam
  • Australia: Queensland
During the Convocation, the Blackboard leaf was awarded to graduates and postgraduates and scholars of the University of Visva-Bharati by the Chancellor who in turn was always the Prime Minister of India. This tradition was initiated by the founder of Gurudeb University Rabindranath Tagore.


Characteristics of Blackboard Leaf

Alstonia scholaris Leaf
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The upper part of the leaves is shiny, while the underside is grayish. The leaves appear in three to ten sheets in a circle. The petiole is 1-3 cm long.


Characteristics of Blackboard Flower

Alstonia scholaris Flower
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The flowers are dense and the flower stalk is 4-7 cm long. The corolla is white and tubular 6-10 mm long, the lobes or obovate are 2-4.5 mm, and overlaps to the left.

The flowers bloom from October to November. The smell is very fragrant, similar to Jessamine’s Night-blooming flower (Cestrum nocturnum).


Characteristics of Blackboard Fruit

Alstonia scholaris Fruit
Source : Donald

The fruit is long like a rope, green, and dangling.


Characteristics of Blackboard Tree

Alstonia scholaris Tree
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The blackboard tree is a large, fast-growing tree. It usually grows in cool places close to water such as river banks, swamps, and rice fields.


The Blackboard TREE wood is recommended for pencil making because it is very suitable and the tree grows quickly and is easy to cultivate.

In Borneo, Indonesia, this tree wood is used to make floating nets, household utensils, tool handles, etc.

In the 1889 issue of “Authentic Australian Useful Plants” notes that “The bark of the bitter Blackboard tree was used by indigenous Indians to treat intestinal problems.

Other benefits of the Blackboard tree were also found, it was effective in curing stomach and other ailments. It is described in Indian Pharmacopoeia as an astringent, anthelmintic, and antiperiodic tonic.

The complete substance extracted from the Blackboard tree bark can be found in “Dict., 3rd suppt., Part i., Page 688 et seq.” in Dymock’s book (Materia Medica of Western India).


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