Alstonia scholaris (L.) R.Br.

DeFilipps, Robert A. & Krupnick, Gary A., 2018, The medicinal plants of Myanmar, PhytoKeys 102, pp. 1-341: 10

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scientific name

Alstonia scholaris (L.) R.Br.


Alstonia scholaris (L.) R.Br. 


Myanmar: letpan-ga, taung-mayo, taung-meok. English: devil tree, dita bark.


China, Cambodia, India, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, New Guinea, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Vietnam; also Tropical Australia and Africa. In Myanmar, found in Bago, Kachin, Mandalay, Shan, Taninthayi, and Yangon. Grows naturally in the plains and on low hills, particularly in Lower Myanmar.

Conservation status.

Lower Risk/least concern [LC] ( IUCN 2017).


Bark: Used to treat asthma, heart disease, for chronic ulcers, and other ailments. The powder mixed with ginger is given to new mothers the first day after birthing to cleanse the blood and promote lactation. Bark paste is applied to boils and other sores to minimize inflammation and hasten healing. A bark extract made with boiling water and then mixed with Cinnamomum obtusifolium  seed powder is sipped to expel intestinal parasites, such as threadworms and roundworms. Reduced to one-third the starting volume, a boiled-water bark extract is consumed to treat lung disease, sour stomach, paralysis, cerebral palsy, heart disease, asthma, fever, shooting pain, and stomachache. Remedies made from the components of the Devil’s tree are known for stimulating the circulatory and respiratory systems, promoting weight gain, and controlling heart disease, asthma, and skin conditions. Latex: Applied locally to ulcers, sores, yaws, the hollow of an aching tooth, to mature abscesses or boils, to kill maggots in wounds of cattle, and to draw out thorns and splinters. Sap: Applied to sores to stimulate healing; mixed with sesame oil and swabbed inside the ear to treat earache. Bark, Sap, Leaf: Used in treatments for fever, weakness, paralysis, sores, aches, pains, and gastric problems including dysentery. Leaf: Used in poultices; green leaves applied to back or dried leaves burned under beds to induce lacteal secretion; infusion of young leaves taken in the morning helpful in cases of beri-beri; leaf tips are taken with roasted coconut to treat stomatitis. Tender leaves are wilted over heat, crushed, and applied to infected sores to accelerate healing.


Medicinal uses of this species in India are discussed in Jain and DeFilipps (1991) as follows: The bark is a bitter tonic, alterative, anthelmintic, and galactagogue; it is also used for fever, diarrhea, dysentery (powdered and mixed with honey), snakebite and skin diseases, heart disease, leprosy, leucoderma, tumors, rheumatism, cholera, bronchitis, and pneumonia; the juice is used on ulcers and for rheumatic pains; and the root for an enlarged liver. Medicinal use of this species in China is discussed by Duke and Ayensu (1985).

Reported constituents include the following alkaloids: echitamine (also called ditain), ditamine, echitenine, alstonamine, echitamidine ( Perry 1980).

Investigators have reported activity against the snail vector, Lymnaea acuminata  , of the parasitic flukes Fasciola hepatica  and F. gigantica  ( Singh and Singh 2005), as well as anti-cancer activity in human cancer cell lines ( Jagetia and Baliga 2006) and antibacterial activity ( Khan et al. 2003).


Nordal (1963), Agricultural Corporation (1980), Perry (1980), Forest Department (1999).