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#ThursdayTreeLove: The heady fragrance of the Devil’s tree

Genus: Alstonia scholaris

Common name: The Devil’s tree / Saptaparini / Blackboard tree

Come November and a delicious fragrance starts permeating the air as the Saptaparini tree comes into bloom. It emits a uniquely heady perfume which seems to be a mix of cardamom, cinnamon, cloves with hints of citrus. How I wish to bottle it or even dry the flowers to burn later. But the fragrance disappears as soon as the flowers are separated from the tree.

florets-light green-saptaparini

Nevertheless, the sight of the florets decorating the tree from top to bottom is delightful to say the least. These tight bunches of flowers gradually shed and form an interesting pattern on the floor beneath the tree. I just love the sight of its tiny white-green flowers wafting down one by one. There are many who hate the smell and even get breathing problems from the pollen it emits.

I guess this sensuous fragrance is the main reason for it being called the Devil’s tree as many tribals feared to sit under it. The common superstition was that a devil lived in this tree which by this very fragrance lured people. Then it would enslave to harm them.

Sapta and Parini are from Sanskrit, meaning seven and leaf respectively. The leaves are arranged in a tight circle of seven around the stem and stay almost year long on the tree. One can see many avenues lined with this gracious tree in modern developments in Delhi/NCR.

Intrigued? Pin it for later!saptaparini-the devil's tree-fragrance-thursday tree love

Due to a tradition initiated by Gurudeb Rabindranath Tagore, this tree is called scholaris. The custom is to present the leaves of this tree during the convocation ceremony to the students/scholars by the Vice Chancellor. Also the wood is used to make pencils, blackboards, wooden writing slats, etc. So the significance to scholars is really enforced in its name.

I look forward to winters when this tree begins to bloom and perfume the air.


Have you come across this tree? Whats your reaction to this tree-love it or hate it?

Joining in the #Thursdaytreelove linky with Parul Β which is a fortnightly feature every month.

My previous post for this linky can be found here

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22 thoughts on “#ThursdayTreeLove: The heady fragrance of the Devil’s tree

  1. They look so beautiful … It deserves a way better name than Devil’s tree. Interesting fact about presenting it to scholars. Didn’t know that before. Although I can imagine that not everyone likes sweet smelling flowers and it can lead to headaches as well.

    1. Thanks Raj-its really a stunning tree for me. But I have friends who hate the smell and dread this season. I love the tree folklores-what wonderful traditions and stories in nature πŸ™‚

  2. Couldn’t believe this tree. I’ve not known anything about this at all. I love this tree love and I am seeing so many new trees here Shalz. You share good information.

    P.S. I chose All the things you cannot see first, but I couldn’t sit and spend time with it, so switched to the time traveler’s wife.

    1. Thanks Jayanthy -so happy to hear you loved this post πŸ™‚

      Yay for the Time Traveler’s wife-now I am waiting to hear how you liked it!!!

  3. Wow, Saptaparini/ blackboard tree, I have seen it so many times but was not aware of this. I had always loved its unique bunch of leaves. Thanks for sharing its connection why its called scholaris

    1. Thanks Pragun-I am so happy to receive such positive comments on this post. I am a fan of its foliage too and love the fact that it stays green almost all the year around.

      Am so glad to be a part of the Thursday tree love series!! πŸ™‚

    1. Yup some peeps do find it very strong and some hate it like anything as it smells terrible to them. Me-I love it and have been trying to preserve it in some ways.

  4. Have seen this tree many times but wasnt aware of its significance and importance. This made for an interesting read. Liking this series of yours and your take on Thursday Tree Love πŸ™‚

    1. Thanks so much Shilpa for the praise-I am happy to hear my series is being liked. I love trees and have always been fascinated with them. I try to go on tree walks with some experts in my city and have always come back with so many stories and anecdotes. So just sharing that here.

  5. I love your tree love posts, Shalz, they are always loaded with precious information!

    A mix of cardamom, cloves, cinnamon and citrus! Wow, isn’t that a dreamy mix!

    1. Its indeed a dreamy mix and thats just what I smell in it. Different people smell different things. i am so happy to hear my tree posts are liked Soumya. I am an avid nature lover and have always been fascinated with trees. So this series is just the best way to give into that love πŸ™‚

  6. I love it and I love the fragrance. I also know of people who find it overwhelming and unable to breathe. It is definitely strong. I had no idea it was called the Sapta Parini or even the Devil’s Tree. I loved that snippet about its leaves being presented to scholars.

    1. Thanks Tulika – I love this tree for its foliage too as its leaves are really pretty. It stays green almost all around the year and looks pretty majestic. So glad you enjoyed reading this post πŸ™‚

    1. Oh I am sure you will spot it and then remember the fragrance. Its very prolific and an omnipresent tree now as its been a hot favorite of the landscapers. But i have heard that its been planted without any thought to the effects on pollen emission which leads to distress to asthama patients. If you do spot it, pls tell me πŸ™‚

  7. Even I haven’t noticed this tree before. Very interesting indeed. This is the first time I am reading that the fragrance disappears when the flowers part from a tree. That seems so devilish.

    1. Yeah the flowers stop smelling that great as soon as they are cut from the tree and slowly the smell vanishes completely. I am in love with this fragrance and look forward to their flowering every year.

  8. Very pretty and I’d love to inhale the fragrance. I can’t seem to remember if I’ve seen the tree at all. The name sounds familiar because we have a cultural centre here by that name. Will be on the look out for this.

    1. Oh I do hope you catch this tree Corinne; its quite a versatile tree when it comes to adapting to the climate and soil. I have been hearing from peeps all over about having this tree near them

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