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Useful Tropical Plants

Saraca asoca

(Roxb.) W.J.de Wilde

Fabaceae


There seems to have been some confusion between this species and Saraca indica L., in the literature. Whilst this species is native to India and western Myanmar, Saraca indica (despite its name) is not found wild in India but is native further east in southeast Asia. Saraca asoca is the correct name for the plant, native to India, that is widely used in herbal medicine. It is quite likely that most of the uses mentioned under Saraca indica should instead apply here[
K
Title
Plants for a Future
Author
Ken Fern
Description
Notes from observations, tasting etc at Plants For A Future and on field trips.
].

+ Synonyms

Jonesia asoca Roxb.

Jonesia confusa Hassk.

Jonesia pinnata Willd.

Saraca confusa (Hassk.) Backer

Saraca indica Bedd.

Common Name: Asoka Tree

Saraca asoca
Inflorescence
Photograph by: Dinesh Valke
Creative Commons License
Saraca asoca Saraca asoca Saraca asoca Saraca asoca Saraca asoca

General Information

Saraca asoca is an evergreen shrub or small tree with a dense, spreading crown of horizontal branches; it can grow up to 10 metres tall. The bole can be 10cm in diameter[
451
Title
Flora Malesiana Series 1
Publication
 
Author
Various
Website
http://www.archive.org
Publisher
Nationaal Herbarium Nederiand, Universiteit Leiden branch
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
A massive treatment of the plants of the Malaysian Archipelago. Much of it has been made available to download from the Internet
].
The tree is an important herbal medicine in Ayurveda, being used on its own and in a range of formulations, The bark is harvested from the wild and sold in local markets. Saraca asoca is one of the most important sacred trees in India, both among Hindus and Buddhists, the handsome flowers being commonly used as temple decorations[
146
Title
A Manual of Indian Timbers.
Publication
 
Author
Gamble. J. S.
Publisher
Bishen Singh Mahendra Pal Singh
Year
1972
ISBN
-
Description
First written in the 19th century, but still a classic, giving a lot of information on the uses and habitats of Indian trees. Not for the casual reader.
]. The tree is commonly grown as an ornamental[
451
Title
Flora Malesiana Series 1
Publication
 
Author
Various
Website
http://www.archive.org
Publisher
Nationaal Herbarium Nederiand, Universiteit Leiden branch
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
A massive treatment of the plants of the Malaysian Archipelago. Much of it has been made available to download from the Internet
].
This small tree has become threatened in some parts of its range mainly through the loss of its habitat and overexploitation for medicinal use. It is classified as 'Vulnerable' in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species(2011)[
338
Title
IUCN Red List of Threatened Species
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.iucnredlist.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
A list of plants under threat and facing possible extinction, usually with brief details of the threats and information on habitat.
].

Known Hazards

None known

Botanical References

451
Title
Flora Malesiana Series 1
Publication
 
Author
Various
Website
http://www.archive.org
Publisher
Nationaal Herbarium Nederiand, Universiteit Leiden branch
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
A massive treatment of the plants of the Malaysian Archipelago. Much of it has been made available to download from the Internet
,
1594
Title
A Revision of the Genus Saraca L. (Legum. - Caes/)
Publication
Blumea 15, 2 pp 413-425, 1967
Author
Zuijderhoudt G.F.P.
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
 

Range

E. Asia - India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Myanmar.

Habitat

Lowland evergreen forests; at elevations up to 750 metres[
451
Title
Flora Malesiana Series 1
Publication
 
Author
Various
Website
http://www.archive.org
Publisher
Nationaal Herbarium Nederiand, Universiteit Leiden branch
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
A massive treatment of the plants of the Malaysian Archipelago. Much of it has been made available to download from the Internet
,
1595
Title
Ethnobotanical, phytochemical and pharmacological properties of Saraca asoca bark: A Review
Publication
ejpmr, 2016,3(6), 274-279
Author
Kauser A.S.; Hasan A.; Parrey S.A. & Ahmad W.
Website
http://www.ejpmr.com
Publisher
 
Year
2016
ISBN
2394-3211
Description
 
].

Properties

Conservation StatusVulnerable
Medicinal Rating *  *  *
HabitTree
Height9.00 m
PollinatorsInsects
Cultivation StatusCultivated, Ornamental, Wild

Cultivation Details

Saraca asoca is a plant of the moist tropical lowlands and requires an annual rainfall ranging from 2,000 - 4000 mm with a maximum temperature of 35 - 40°c[
1595
Title
Ethnobotanical, phytochemical and pharmacological properties of Saraca asoca bark: A Review
Publication
ejpmr, 2016,3(6), 274-279
Author
Kauser A.S.; Hasan A.; Parrey S.A. & Ahmad W.
Website
http://www.ejpmr.com
Publisher
 
Year
2016
ISBN
2394-3211
Description
 
].
Succeeds in a moderately sunny position, but grows well in moderate shade[
1595
Title
Ethnobotanical, phytochemical and pharmacological properties of Saraca asoca bark: A Review
Publication
ejpmr, 2016,3(6), 274-279
Author
Kauser A.S.; Hasan A.; Parrey S.A. & Ahmad W.
Website
http://www.ejpmr.com
Publisher
 
Year
2016
ISBN
2394-3211
Description
 
]. Prefers a moist, well-drained soil[
1595
Title
Ethnobotanical, phytochemical and pharmacological properties of Saraca asoca bark: A Review
Publication
ejpmr, 2016,3(6), 274-279
Author
Kauser A.S.; Hasan A.; Parrey S.A. & Ahmad W.
Website
http://www.ejpmr.com
Publisher
 
Year
2016
ISBN
2394-3211
Description
 
].A deep, moist soil, especially near a body of water, favours good growth[
1595
Title
Ethnobotanical, phytochemical and pharmacological properties of Saraca asoca bark: A Review
Publication
ejpmr, 2016,3(6), 274-279
Author
Kauser A.S.; Hasan A.; Parrey S.A. & Ahmad W.
Website
http://www.ejpmr.com
Publisher
 
Year
2016
ISBN
2394-3211
Description
 
].
Plants do not respond well to coppicing[
1595
Title
Ethnobotanical, phytochemical and pharmacological properties of Saraca asoca bark: A Review
Publication
ejpmr, 2016,3(6), 274-279
Author
Kauser A.S.; Hasan A.; Parrey S.A. & Ahmad W.
Website
http://www.ejpmr.com
Publisher
 
Year
2016
ISBN
2394-3211
Description
 
].
Trees are usually cut for their bark when around 20 years old. This should be carried out in the rainy season in order to promote resprouting[
1595
Title
Ethnobotanical, phytochemical and pharmacological properties of Saraca asoca bark: A Review
Publication
ejpmr, 2016,3(6), 274-279
Author
Kauser A.S.; Hasan A.; Parrey S.A. & Ahmad W.
Website
http://www.ejpmr.com
Publisher
 
Year
2016
ISBN
2394-3211
Description
 
].
Plants can flower and produce fruit throughout the year[
451
Title
Flora Malesiana Series 1
Publication
 
Author
Various
Website
http://www.archive.org
Publisher
Nationaal Herbarium Nederiand, Universiteit Leiden branch
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
A massive treatment of the plants of the Malaysian Archipelago. Much of it has been made available to download from the Internet
].
The flowers are fragrant[
1595
Title
Ethnobotanical, phytochemical and pharmacological properties of Saraca asoca bark: A Review
Publication
ejpmr, 2016,3(6), 274-279
Author
Kauser A.S.; Hasan A.; Parrey S.A. & Ahmad W.
Website
http://www.ejpmr.com
Publisher
 
Year
2016
ISBN
2394-3211
Description
 
].
Although many species within the family Fabaceae have a symbiotic relationship with soil bacteria, this species is said to be devoid of such a relationship and therefore does not fix atmospheric nitrogen[
1309
Title
The Leguminosae; A Source Book of Characteristics, Uses and Nodulation
Publication
 
Author
Allen O.N.; Allen E.K.
Publisher
University of Wisconsin
Year
1981
ISBN
0-333-32221-5
Description
An amazing and comprehensive work, giving a brief guide to the many genera of the family Fabaceae and also the principle uses of the genus.
].

Edible Uses

None known

Medicinal

Ashoka is a very popular medicinal herb in Ayurveda, where it is said to be particularly useful for treating a range of conditions related to the female reproductive system[
304
Title
Handbook of Ayurvedic Medicinal Plants
Publication
 
Author
Kapoor. L. D.
Publisher
CRC Press, Florida.
Year
2001
ISBN
0-8493-2929-9
Description
A very detailed book on some of the key Ayurvedic herbs, giving both technical and non-technical information on each plant. The whole is very well referenced.
,
1595
Title
Ethnobotanical, phytochemical and pharmacological properties of Saraca asoca bark: A Review
Publication
ejpmr, 2016,3(6), 274-279
Author
Kauser A.S.; Hasan A.; Parrey S.A. & Ahmad W.
Website
http://www.ejpmr.com
Publisher
 
Year
2016
ISBN
2394-3211
Description
 
]. It is strongly astringent uterine sedative and is said to have a stimulating effect on uterine and ovarian tissue[
304
Title
Handbook of Ayurvedic Medicinal Plants
Publication
 
Author
Kapoor. L. D.
Publisher
CRC Press, Florida.
Year
2001
ISBN
0-8493-2929-9
Description
A very detailed book on some of the key Ayurvedic herbs, giving both technical and non-technical information on each plant. The whole is very well referenced.
,
362
Title
Dominica Botanic Gardens
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.da-academy.org/trees_shrubs.html
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An on-line resource, providing top quality pictures and some basic information on various plants being grown at the Botanic Gardens, often including uses and habitat.
].
The bark is antiabortive, antibacterial, antiinflammatory, antioxidant, astringent, demulcent, diuretic, strongly haemostatic, oxytocic, neural tonic, refrigerent, sedative, uterine tonic, vermicidal[
1595
Title
Ethnobotanical, phytochemical and pharmacological properties of Saraca asoca bark: A Review
Publication
ejpmr, 2016,3(6), 274-279
Author
Kauser A.S.; Hasan A.; Parrey S.A. & Ahmad W.
Website
http://www.ejpmr.com
Publisher
 
Year
2016
ISBN
2394-3211
Description
 
]. It is used in the treatment of a range of conditions, especially those affecting the urinary system and is held to be a very effective treatment in all manner of conditions related to the female reproductive system. It has a strong effect upon the uterine muscles, and is especially useful in the treatment of uterine haemorrhages, menstrual cramps, menorrhagia and leucorrhoea[
304
Title
Handbook of Ayurvedic Medicinal Plants
Publication
 
Author
Kapoor. L. D.
Publisher
CRC Press, Florida.
Year
2001
ISBN
0-8493-2929-9
Description
A very detailed book on some of the key Ayurvedic herbs, giving both technical and non-technical information on each plant. The whole is very well referenced.
,
362
Title
Dominica Botanic Gardens
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.da-academy.org/trees_shrubs.html
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An on-line resource, providing top quality pictures and some basic information on various plants being grown at the Botanic Gardens, often including uses and habitat.
,
1595
Title
Ethnobotanical, phytochemical and pharmacological properties of Saraca asoca bark: A Review
Publication
ejpmr, 2016,3(6), 274-279
Author
Kauser A.S.; Hasan A.; Parrey S.A. & Ahmad W.
Website
http://www.ejpmr.com
Publisher
 
Year
2016
ISBN
2394-3211
Description
 
]. It is also used to treat conditions such as haemorrhoids and internal bleeding[
304
Title
Handbook of Ayurvedic Medicinal Plants
Publication
 
Author
Kapoor. L. D.
Publisher
CRC Press, Florida.
Year
2001
ISBN
0-8493-2929-9
Description
A very detailed book on some of the key Ayurvedic herbs, giving both technical and non-technical information on each plant. The whole is very well referenced.
,
362
Title
Dominica Botanic Gardens
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.da-academy.org/trees_shrubs.html
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An on-line resource, providing top quality pictures and some basic information on various plants being grown at the Botanic Gardens, often including uses and habitat.
].

The flowers are diuretic[
1594
Title
A Revision of the Genus Saraca L. (Legum. - Caes/)
Publication
Blumea 15, 2 pp 413-425, 1967
Author
Zuijderhoudt G.F.P.
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
 
]. An extract of the flowers is useful in the treatment of haemorrhoids and dysentery. The flowers are also useful in the treatment of scabies in children and various other skin diseases[
1595
Title
Ethnobotanical, phytochemical and pharmacological properties of Saraca asoca bark: A Review
Publication
ejpmr, 2016,3(6), 274-279
Author
Kauser A.S.; Hasan A.; Parrey S.A. & Ahmad W.
Website
http://www.ejpmr.com
Publisher
 
Year
2016
ISBN
2394-3211
Description
 
]..

The seeds are used in the treatment of urinary discharges[
1595
Title
Ethnobotanical, phytochemical and pharmacological properties of Saraca asoca bark: A Review
Publication
ejpmr, 2016,3(6), 274-279
Author
Kauser A.S.; Hasan A.; Parrey S.A. & Ahmad W.
Website
http://www.ejpmr.com
Publisher
 
Year
2016
ISBN
2394-3211
Description
 
].

Various studies have been carried out on the medicinal actions of this plant.
The bark contains tannins and catechol[
240
Title
Glossary of Indian Medicinal Plants (Including the Supplement).
Publication
 
Author
Chopra. R. N., Nayar. S. L. and Chopra. I. C.
Publisher
Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, New Delhi.
Year
1986
ISBN
-
Description
Very terse details of medicinal uses of plants with a wide range of references and details of research into the plants chemistry. Not for the casual reader.
].
Both aqueous and alcoholic extracts of the bark have shown significant analgesic activity[
1595
Title
Ethnobotanical, phytochemical and pharmacological properties of Saraca asoca bark: A Review
Publication
ejpmr, 2016,3(6), 274-279
Author
Kauser A.S.; Hasan A.; Parrey S.A. & Ahmad W.
Website
http://www.ejpmr.com
Publisher
 
Year
2016
ISBN
2394-3211
Description
 
].
Extracts of the plant, especially ethanolic extractions, have shown significant anthelmintic amd antiinflammatory activities[
1595
Title
Ethnobotanical, phytochemical and pharmacological properties of Saraca asoca bark: A Review
Publication
ejpmr, 2016,3(6), 274-279
Author
Kauser A.S.; Hasan A.; Parrey S.A. & Ahmad W.
Website
http://www.ejpmr.com
Publisher
 
Year
2016
ISBN
2394-3211
Description
 
].
Alcohol extracts of both the flowers and the bark have shown antimicrobial activity[
1595
Title
Ethnobotanical, phytochemical and pharmacological properties of Saraca asoca bark: A Review
Publication
ejpmr, 2016,3(6), 274-279
Author
Kauser A.S.; Hasan A.; Parrey S.A. & Ahmad W.
Website
http://www.ejpmr.com
Publisher
 
Year
2016
ISBN
2394-3211
Description
 
].
The plant has been shown to stimulate the endometrium and ovarian tissue, and to be useful in treating disorders such as menorrhagia, dysmenorrhoea, premenstrual syndrome, abnormal bleeding and threatened abortion[
1595
Title
Ethnobotanical, phytochemical and pharmacological properties of Saraca asoca bark: A Review
Publication
ejpmr, 2016,3(6), 274-279
Author
Kauser A.S.; Hasan A.; Parrey S.A. & Ahmad W.
Website
http://www.ejpmr.com
Publisher
 
Year
2016
ISBN
2394-3211
Description
 
].

Other Uses

The reddish wood is soft. It is not used commercially[
1309
Title
The Leguminosae; A Source Book of Characteristics, Uses and Nodulation
Publication
 
Author
Allen O.N.; Allen E.K.
Publisher
University of Wisconsin
Year
1981
ISBN
0-333-32221-5
Description
An amazing and comprehensive work, giving a brief guide to the many genera of the family Fabaceae and also the principle uses of the genus.
].

Propagation

Seed - if the seed is harvested when ripe and sown immediately, preferably after soaking in water for 12 hours, it will germinate within 3 weeks and will be ready to plant out within 6 - 12 months[
1595
Title
Ethnobotanical, phytochemical and pharmacological properties of Saraca asoca bark: A Review
Publication
ejpmr, 2016,3(6), 274-279
Author
Kauser A.S.; Hasan A.; Parrey S.A. & Ahmad W.
Website
http://www.ejpmr.com
Publisher
 
Year
2016
ISBN
2394-3211
Description
 
].
Air layering[
974
Title
Encyclopedia of Tropical Plants - Identification and Cultivation of over 3,000 Tropical Plants
Publication
 
Author
Ahmed Fayaz
Publisher
Firefly Books Ltd.; New Zealand
Year
2011
ISBN
978-1-55407-489
Description
A good photograph and terse but detailed information for over 3,000 species of tropical plants. An excellent reference.
].
Cite as: Tropical Plants Database, Ken Fern. tropical.theferns.info. 2019-10-23. <tropical.theferns.info/viewtropical.php?id=Saraca+asoca>

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