Scholar Tree is an elegant evergreen tree, 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. In October small, green yet fragrant flowers appear. All parts of the tree can be considered poisonous. 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. On the Western Ghats, tribal people are reluctant to sit or pass under this tree, for the fear of the devil. Local superstition about its devilish character mainly stems from the fact that its milky sap is rich in poisonous alkaloid, and thus the tree is shunned by cattle.
is a glabrous tree and grows up to 40 m (130 ft) tall. Its mature bark is grayish and its young branches are copiously marked with lenticels.
The upper side of the leaves are glossy, while the underside is greyish. Leaves occur in whorls of three to ten; petioles are 1–3 cm (0.39–1.18 in); the leathery leaves are narrowly obovate to very narrowly spathulate, base cuneate, apex usually rounded; lateral veins occur in 25 to 50 pairs, at 80–90° to midvein. Cymes are dense and pubescent; peduncle is 4–7 cm (1.6–2.8 in) long. Pedicels are usually as long as or shorter than calyx. The corolla is white and tube-like, 6–10 mm (0.24–0.39 in); lobes are broadly ovate or broadly obovate, 2–4.5 mm (0.079–0.177 in), overlapping to the left. The ovaries are distinct and pubescent. The follicles are distinct and linear.
Flowers bloom in the month October. The flowers are very fragrant similar to the flower of Cestrum nocturnum.
Its bark, known as Dita Bark, is used in traditional medicine to treat dysentery and fever. In Ayurveda it is used as a bitter and as an astringent herb for treating skin disorders, malarial fever, urticaria, chronic dysentery, diarrhea, in snake bite and for upper purification process of Panchakarma . The Milky juice of the tree is applied to ulcers.