Saraca asoca (Roxb.) Wilde (Caesalpiniaceae)
Kannada: Ashokada mara, Seetha mara.
Tamil: Asoka maram.
Description: A small evergreen tree with paripinnate leaves and orange-yellow flowers. Fruit, a pod, flat, 5-15x2.5 cm; seeds obovate-orbicular, compressed.
Distribution : India: Central and Eastern Himalayas, Assam, Meghalaya, West Bengal, Orissa, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala.
Uses: Bark astringent, antibilious, uterine sedative, used in leucorrhoea, menorrhagia and other menstrual disorders, worm infestation, polyurea, fever, leprosy, gynaecological disorders, haemorrhoid, dyspepsia, colic and pimples. Bark and flower antibilious, used in haemorrhagic dysentery: Leaf blood purifier, used in stomach-ache. Flower uterine tonic, antidiabetic, antisyphilitic. Seed used in urinary discharges.
The well-known Ayurvedic preparations using the bark of this species are “Ashokarishta” and “Ashokaghrita”. The former is prescribed in leucorrhoea, haematuria, menorrhagia and other diseases of genito-uterine system of females.
Threat Status: On account of its high medicinal value the plant is being indiscriminately felled in the forest to collect its bark by poachers and people to such an extent that today its status of existence is rated as “endangered”. Ashoka vana means a garden of asoka plants. In this asoka vana about 150 plants are being maintained. This will set an example for the public that plants for medicinal purpose should be grown and harvested than to rely on the natural forests where they may become extinct and thus disappear from this planet.