Botanical Name: Alstonia angustiloba
Common Name: Common Pulai
Origin: This tree is native to Peninsular Malaysia
Alstonia angustiloba is a tall tree, which can grow up to 15- 25m or more in height. It has a large, pagoda-shaped crown, with distinct tiered branching
The leaves are oval- shaped, with blunt short-tipped ends, and occur in whorls of 4 to 8. The upper-sides are glossy and dark green ad the under-sides are pale green. The leaf veins are numerous and run at right angles to the mid-rid. The leaves range from 6-14 cm in length, and 2.5-6.5 cm in width. When picked, a milky-white latex exudes from the broken ends.
The flowers grow in cluster of 3-8 and are small, creamy white in colour, and strongly scented. Generally, flowering tends to occur once a year after marked dry weather.
The fruit occur as a pair of long narrow cylindrical finely haired pods (about 25cm long) that are joined at the base. These pods contain numerous small flat smooth seeds
The bark is dark grey in colour and is usually smooth when young, becoming slightly cracked with age. The wood is light and soft and is yellow white or grey in colour.
Points of Interest
Alstonia angustiloba is hardy and fast-growing tree and so far is relatively pest-free in Singapore. Although this tree is known to be deciduous, it has been noticed that when planted along roadsides under harsh urban condition leaf shedding tends to occur partially and irregularly, without significant correlation to weather conditions. Flowering, however, tends to take place once a year after dry weather.
Due to its large size and regular branching pattern, it makes a handsome tree for planting in both parks and open spaces, and along major roads and expressway. The wood of the tree is sometimes used for making posts and boards, and the latex from the bark can be used in native medicine.
A mixture of Alstonia angustiloba and Alstonia scholaris can be seen along the Kranji Expressway (KJE).
Alstonia angustiloba (Indian Pulai) occurs throughout Indian to Indonesia and also in northern Australia and the Solomon Islands. It is quite similar to Alstonia angustiloba in appearance; however, the leaves tend to be slightly large in size (8-22cm in length, 2.5-7.5cm in width) and the fruit pods longer (between 30-60cm). The flowers are greenish-yellow in colour with the scent of burnt sugar. The bark contains certain alkaloids that can be used for the treatment of malaria as well as bowel problem like chromic diarrhea and dysentery. Like Alstonia angustiloba, the wood is very light, both in colour and in weight. In Sri Lanka the wood is known to be used making coffin and in Borneo, it is used for marking floats, household utensils, cork etc. the wood was also used in the past to make writing slates for schools, giving rise to its species name “Scholaris”.