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.
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.
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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 which is a fortnightly feature every month.
My previous post for this linky can be found here