Botanical Survey of India | Flora of India

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Polyalthia longifolia (Sonner.) Thwaites, Enum. Pl. Zeyl. 398. 1864; Hook. f. & Thomson in Fl. Brit. India 1: 62. 1872. Uvaria longifolia Sonner., Voy. aux Indes 2: 233, t. 131. 1782.

Asm.: Unboi; Beng.: Debdaru; Hindi: Ashoka; Kan.: Putranjiva; Mal.: Ashokam, Chorunna; Or.: Debdaru; Tam.: Asogam, Asothi; Tel.: Asokamu.

Trees with straight trunk and conical crown, 15 - 20 m tall; bark greyish brown; young branches spreading, pendulous, slender, glabrous or sparsely puberulous when young. Leaves oblong-lanceolate to narrow-lanceolate, rounded at base, gradually long-acuminate at apex, strongly undulate along margins, 15 - 23 x 2 - 4 cm, glabrous, shiny above, dull beneath; lateral nerves up to 30 pairs, faint; petioles 1 - 1.5 cm long. Flowers greenish yellow, 2.5 - 3 mm long, numerous, in subumbellate clusters on 3 - 10 mm long peduncle at axils of fallen leaves; pedicels slender, 2 - 3 cm long, slightly pubescent; bracts submedian. Sepals 3, connate at base, broadly ovate-triangular, acute at apex, 1 - 2 x 1 - 1.5 mm, pubescent. Petals 6 (3 + 3), subequal, linear, acuminate, broad at base, puberulous, membranous, greenish yellow; outer petals 6 - 7 x ca 2 mm; inner ones 10 - 15 x ca 2.5 mm. Stamens numerous, ca 1 mm long; connectives convex at top. Carpels many, linear, slightly broad at base, ca 1.5 mm long, puberulous. Ripe carpels numerous, ovoid to ellipsoid, obtuse at both ends, ca 2 cm long, ca 1 cm across, glabrous, yellowish, reddish to black later; stalks 1 - 1.5 cm long. Seed 1, almost ovoid, smooth or slightly longitudinally grooved, pale brown, shiny.

Fl. March - May; Fr. July - Sept.

Distrib. India: Cultivated throughout in gardens and as avenue trees, sometimes self regenerating.

Said to be native of South India and Sri Lanka, now introduced to many tropical countries.

Notes. The seed and fruit anatomy of this species has been studied by Mohana Rao (in Bot. Jahrb. 10: 83 - 89. 1979).

Polyalthia longifolia (Sonner.) Thwaites var.pendula is a well known ornamental plant cultivated in gardens and avenues in India.

The herbarium specimens of this variety are hardly distinguishable from those of the typical form. But the living specimens can be easily separated by the characters mentioned below.

Crown subcylindric to conical, tapering to apex. Stem slender, 10 m or more tall; branches slender, drooping; branchlets also drooping. Flowers in cymes, with fewer flowers than the typical variety, flowering irregular and fruits are rarely produced.

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