(Last Updated on : 04-12-2013)
Scientifically known as Alstonia macrophylla Wallich, Matchstick Tree is indigenous to India and is found in the dry forests. This Indian medicinal plant is generally grown in the gardens for its edible fruits. There are several common names for the Matchstick tree.
This Indian medicinal plant is a small to medium-sized tree with smooth blackish-brown or greyish bark. Leaves of the Matchstick Tree grow in whorls of 3-4, oblong-lanceolate, 10-50 cm long and 4-14 cm wide. The base of the leaves is cuneate, apex is short-acuminate, densely pubescent beneath when young, with distinct lateral veins 0.6-2 cms apart from each other. The petioles are slender and 1-3 cms long. The flowers of Matchstick Tree are small, white, aromatic, salver-shaped and grow in corymbose cymes at the end of twigs among leaves. The pedicels are much longer than calyx. Fruits of Matchstick Tree are innumerable and slender in shape, the lower portion is pendulous; they are 30-45 cms long and 0.6 cm wide, containing slender, 6-mm-long seeds. The Matchstick Tree is found in gardens across the country.
The barks of Matchstick Tree are said to possess anticholeric, emmenagogue and vulnerary properties. The fruit of matchstick tree is used as a decoction, infusion or tincture. Although differing in its alkaloidal composition, the bark of matchstick tree is apparently used like that of Alstonia scholaris is used to treat a variety of illnesses through Ayurveda. The medicine produced heals cancer-like conditions as well. The leaves of matchstick tree are coated with coconut oil, heated, and later applied as a hot poultice to relieve sprains, bruises and dislocated joints.
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