Analivegam is an indigenous tree found in the deciduous forests of southern India. Its common name in English is Poison Devil Tree. This small tree is believed to have several medicinal values although a solid study is lacking.
Its scientific name is Alstonia venenata. In Malayalam, the word anali refers to Pit Viper – a group of venomous snakes. So this name might have come from it.
Note: Some readers have mentioned that the photos given here are of Theeppala instead of Analivegam. Some have also mentioned that Analivegam is not Alstonia venenata. There is another tree called Analivenga, whose scientific name is Pittosporum neelgherrense. The similar-sounding names in Malayalam can be confusing.
As far as I could find out, the photos in this post are of Alstonia venenata, although I couldn’t confirm it.
Table of Contents
Plant Type: Perennial Tree
Scientific name: Alstonia venenata
English: Poison Devil Tree
Malayalam: Analivegam, Theeppala
Height: ~15 feet (fully grown)
Flowers: White, 5 petals, fan-shaped, small
Flowering: Spring – Summer
Distribution: mainly indigenous to South India
So far, certain tribals in India have been using the various parts of this tree for therapeutic purposes as well as against snake bites.
However, in ancient literature, there seem to be no prominent mentions of Alstonia venenata. So, even though some sources refer to its use as an anti-venom due to the presence of an alkaloid called indole, it may not be common in the current system of medicines. A study about the phytochemical properties of A.venenata detected the presence of terpenoids as well as various other compounds.
If proper studies or research are done, this plant could turn out to be another valuable addition to the herbal treasure of the Western Ghats. It can be the remedy for snake bites and certain skin diseases.
Within six years of planting, it (the tree in this post) grew to almost 7 feet in height. In fact, this perennial tree can reach a height of 15 feet or more. The leaves are lanceolate with jagged edges.
The small and beautiful flowers occur at the end of the branches. They are white and fan-shaped with five petals. There is a circular yellow ring at the center.
Primarily being a wild tree of the peninsular forests of southern India, now it cultivated in rural areas, although less common.