Saraca asoca


S. asoca



Local Names

Sita ashoka tree




Native to Indian sub-continent (Introduced to Pakistan)

DNA Barcode


Saraca asoca (the ashoka tree; lit., "sorrow-less") is a plant belonging to the Detarioideae subfamily of the legume family. It is an important tree in the cultural traditions of the Indian subcontinent and adjacent areas. It is sometimes incorrectly known as Saraca indica. The flower of Ashoka tree is the state flower of Indian state of Odisha.
The ashoka is a rain-forest tree. Its original distribution was in the central areas of the Deccan plateau, as well as the middle section of the Western Ghats in the western coastal zone of the Indian subcontinent. The ashoka is prized for its beautiful foliage and fragrant flowers. It is a handsome, small, erect evergreen tree, with deep green leaves growing in dense clusters.
Its flowering season is around February to April. The ashoka flowers come in heavy, lush bunches. They are bright orange-yellow in color, turning red before wilting. As a wild tree, the ashoka is a vulnerable species. It is becoming rarer in its natural habitat, but isolated wild ashoka trees are still to be found in the foothills of the central and eastern Himalayas, in scattered locations of the northern plains of India as well as on the west coast of the subcontinent near Mumbai. There are a few varieties of the ashoka tree. One variety is larger and highly spreading. The columnar varieties are common in cultivation.

Mythology and tradition
The ashoka tree is considered sacred throughout the Indian subcontinent, especially in India, Nepal and Sri Lanka. This tree has many folklorical, religious and literary associations in the region. Highly valued as well for its handsome appearance and the color and abundance of its flowers, the ashoka tree is often found in royal palace compounds and gardens as well as close to temples throughout India.
The ashoka tree is closely associated with the yakshi mythological beings. One of the recurring elements in Indian art, often found at gates of Buddhist and Hindu temples, is the sculpture of a yakshini with her foot on the trunk and her hands holding the branch of a flowering ashoka tree. As an artistic element, often the tree and the yakshi are subject to heavy stylization. Some authors hold that the young girl at the foot of this tree is based on an ancient tree deity related to fertility.
Yakshis under the ashoka tree were also important in early Buddhist monuments as a decorative element and are found in many ancient Buddhist archaeological sites. With the passing of the centuries the yakshi under the ashoka tree became a standard decorative element of Hindu Indian sculpture and was integrated into Indian temple architecture as salabhanjika, because there is often a confusion between the ashoka tree and the sal tree (Shorea robusta) in the ancient literature of the Indian subcontinent.

Ashoka blossom
In Hinduism the ashoka is considered a sacred tree. Not counting a multitude of local traditions connected to it, the ashoka tree is worshipped in Chaitra, a month of the Hindu calendar. It is also associated with Kamadeva, the Hindu god of love, who included an ashoka blossom among the five flowers in his quiver, where ashoka represent seductive hypnosis. Hence, the ashoka tree is often mentioned in classical Indian religious and amorous poetry, having at least 16 different names in Sanskrit referring to the tree or its flowers.
In Mahākāvya, or Indian epic poetry, the ashoka tree is mentioned in the Ramayana in reference to the Ashoka Vatika (garden of ashoka trees) where Hanuman first meets Sita.
Other trees called 'ashoka tree'

False ashoka
A popular tree known as "false ashoka tree" or even as "ashoka tree", Polyalthia longifolia, is cultivated to resemble the growth pattern of erect pillar-like Mediterranean cypress trees. It is a popular park and garden plant, much used in landscaping on the Indian subcontinent, known also as Devadaar or Debdaru. This tree can easily be distinguished by its simple leaves and very different flowers. Ashoka flowers are red (initially orange in color) while P. longifolia flowers are apple green in color. Ashoka fruits look like broad beans containing multiple seeds while false ashoka fruits are small, spherical and contain only one seed. Ashoka trees are small in height, while false ashoka is taller.

    The bark of the ashoka plant is used to prepare cosmetics that help to improve skin complexion.
    Saraca asoca has been traditionally used in Indian system for treatment of uterine, genital, and other reproductive disorders in women, fever, pain, and inflammation.
Indigenous to India, Burma and Malaya, it is an erect tree, small and evergreen, with a smooth, grey-brown bark. The crown is compact and shapely. Flowers are usually to be seen throughout the year, but it is in January and February that the profusion of orange and scarlet clusters turns the tree into an object of startling beauty. Pinned closely on to every branch and twig, these clusters consist of numerous, small, long-tubed flowers, which open out into four oval lobes. Young leaves are soft, red and limp and remain pendent even after attaining full size. The straight or scimitar shaped pods, stiff, leathery, broad and about eight inches long, is red and fleshy before ripening

Saraca Indica Medicinal Uses
    Ashoka has been traditionally used in Indian Ayurveda as a uterine tonic and has been indicated in menstrual irregularities ESP in DUB. Ashoka happens to be a uterine stimulant and increases uterine contractions. It also stimulates the ovarian tissue
    Medicinal
    Ashoka is a very popular medicinal herb in Ayurveda, where it is said to be particularly useful for treating a range of conditions related to the female reproductive system.
    It is strongly astringent uterine sedative and is said to have a stimulating effect on uterine and ovarian tissue.
    The bark is antiabortive, antibacterial, antiinflammatory, antioxidant, astringent, demulcent, diuretic, strongly haemostatic, oxytocic, neural tonic, refrigerent, sedative, uterine tonic, vermicidal. It is used in the treatment of a range of conditions, especially those affecting the urinary system and is held to be a very effective treatment in all manner of conditions related to the female reproductive system. It has a strong effect upon the uterine muscles, and is especially useful in the treatment of uterine haemorrhages, menstrual cramps, menorrhagia and leucorrhoea.
    It is also used to treat conditions such as haemorrhoids and internal bleeding.
    The flowers are diuretic. An extract of the flowers is useful in the treatment of haemorrhoids and dysentery. The flowers are also useful in the treatment of scabies in children and various other skin diseases.
    The seeds are used in the treatment of urinary discharges.
    Various studies have been carried out on the medicinal actions of this plant.
    The bark contains tannins and catechol.
    Both aqueous and alcoholic extracts of the bark have shown significant analgesic activity.
    Extracts of the plant, especially ethanolic extractions, have shown significant anthelmintic amd antiinflammatory activities.
    Alcohol extracts of both the flowers and the bark have shown antimicrobial activity.
    The plant has been shown to stimulate the endometrium and ovarian tissue, and to be useful in treating disorders such as menorrhagia, dysmenorrhoea, premenstrual syndrome, abnormal bleeding and threatened abortion.