Indian Mast Tree / Ashoka
Scientific name: Polyalthia longifolia
Family name: Annonaceae
Asoka trees in Taman Tugu
The Indian Mast tree is one of the many trees found within the Taman Tugu site. These trees were introduced by the British as decorative plants and to reduce sound pollution around their residential area.
The tree is small to medium-sized, evergreen tree with narrow, columnar crown and weeping branches and typically, grows up to 8- 12m, but can reach 20 m in the wild. It has a straight trunk, smooth, glossy leaves and wavy leaf margin. The pale green to greenish yellow flowers are star shaped, with 6 thin, linear petals. The smooth, ovoid to ellipsoid fruits have fleshy pulp and is produced in clusters of 20.
The timber for this tree is generally purpose used in construction, production of furniture, flooring, pencils, boxes, matches, and drum cylinders. The leaf extracts have anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties. The bark is used in Ayurverdic medicine to treat fever, diabetes, hypertension, and intestinal worms. The tall straight trunks are used to make masts for sailing ships, hence the common name Indian Mast Tree. These trees are also used for decorative planting and is grown in residential areas as the leaves naturally absorb sound. These trees are regarded as sacred in India and Sri Lanka, and is commonly planted around Hindu temples. The leaves are strung into wreaths and are used during weddings and hung on doors during Hindu festivals.
These monsoonal trees are native to South India, and Sri Lanka.