Dita Tree or Saptaparni or White Cheesewood is an evergreen tropical tree, native to the Indian subcontinent and belonging to the family Apocynaceae. The flowers of this plant are said to have a strong fragrance which has been described as being heady and intoxicating. The name Alstonia comes from Prof. C. Alston, a botanist from Edinburgh and since the wood of this plant was used in the making of pencils and writing slates hence the name Scholaris.
The plant is quite hardy and grows quite well even in a hot dry region. It can be planted in parks, gardens and lawns.
The plant prefers full sun but it should be sheltered from hot sun.
The flowering season starts in early winter, towards the end of October. The plant has small, yellowish-green, umbrella-shaped, extremely fragrant flowers. Leaves grow in bunches of 4-8. They also have thin pod-like fruits.
Water the plant frequently during the dry season. Once a day, should be enough. The plant prefers a moist soil but not water-logging.
The most preferable soil is alluvial red soil but the plant can grow fairly well in any kind of soil be it chalky, loamy, clayey or sandy. The soil needs to be well-drained however.
The average height of the plant ranges from 20m to 40m based on where it's grown. It is usually on the shorter side when grown in an urban setting.
They spread around 10cm in the ground cover. Reaching the full height takes around 20-30 years.
Use organic matter or FYM (Field Yard Manure) while first planting the tree. No fertilizer is required later on.
The plant is susceptible to a few insects and diseases caused by them. The insects can be controlled by using an herbal pesticide. The diseases generally don't require any control measures and will mostly heal in time.
It can be planted as an avenue plant.
The bark of the plant has medicinal value and is used in an infusion to treat chronic diarrhoea, liver complaints, skin diseases, dysentery and malaria. Leaves are used to cure liver congestion. It is also a source of timber.