Poison Devil Tree

Scientific name -Alstonia venenata

Synonyms:  Alstonia venenatus Brown, Echites veneta Roxb.

 Family:  Apocynaceae

Name of Poison Devil Tree in different languages:-

English:  Alstonia

Sanskrit: Ankola, Visaghni

Hindi: Vishagni

Malayalam: Analivegam-അണലിവേഗം

Kannada:  Addasarpa

Tamil:  Sinnappalai

Plant description:

Poison Devil Tree is a large shrub, growing up to 6 m tall with grayish brown bark and yellow hard woody root, seen in mid-elevation forests of India. Leaves are simple, arranged in whorls of 3-6, membranous, lanceolate, margins wavy, finely acuminate, main nerves numerous, close, parallel and united by inter marginal nerve. Flowers are white, arranged in terminal sub umbellate cymes or in racemes. Fruits are fusiform with stalked and beaked follicles, tapering at both ends. Seeds are many flattened with a tuft of hair at each end.

Useful plant parts:

Root, Fruit

Leaf Arrangement

Shape-lance-shaped Margin-Entire Venation-pinnate

Medicinal uses:

The roots are useful in skin diseases, erysipelas, leprosy, cobra bite and other venomous bites, epilepsy, fatigue, fever and otalgia. The fruits are useful in syphilis, insanity and epilepsy. The plant is believed to repel snakes, treat antivenom, Fever, Skin diseases, Snake repellent

Chemical content: 

The plant is a rich source of indole alkaloids. Alkaloids are present in various parts. Stem bark and root contain venenatine, alstovenine, 3-dehydroalstovenine and reserpine. Stem bark contains venoxidine, anhydroalstonatine, kopsinine, venalstonine, venalstoruidine, echitovenine and veneserpine. Fruits contain echitovenidine, (+) minovincinine, echitoserpidine, echitoserpine, echitoveniline, 11-methoxy echitovonidine, 11-methoxy (-) minovinicinine, echitoserpiline, (-)vincadifformine, 11-methoxy(-)vincadifformine and venoterpine. Leaves contain echitovenaldine, echitoveniline, alstolenine, deacetylakuammiline, polynuridine, dihydropolynuridine and raucaffrininoline. In addition to alkaloids, fruits contain beta-amyrin acetate and lupeol ester of beta-hydroxy acid.

Medicinal properties:

The root is bitter, astringent, thermogenic, depurative, antitoxic, antidermatic, stomachic, antidote, febrifuge and anodyne. The alkaloid alstovenine in lower doses exhibited monoamine oxidase inhibitor activity, while in higher doses it showed marked central stimulant effect. Venenatine exhibited reserpine like activity. Alcoholic extract of the fruits showed initial activation effect on acetylcholine esterase, followed alternately by inhibition and activation of the enzyme


The plant is propagated mainly by seeds. Seeds are to be sown on seedbeds and germinated ones are to be transferred to polybags. About three months old seedlings are used for transplanting. If seeds are not available, thin stem cuttings can be planted in polybags and rooted cuttings used. Pits of size 60 cm cube are to be taken at 3 m spacing, filled with dried cowdung, sand and topsoil and made into a mound. To this mound seedlings from polybags are to be transplanted.

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