Saraca asoca – Ashoka

Other notes

Natural History: Ashoka is a small, handsome, evergreen tree found near water streams in the forests of Indian subcontinent and also planted in gardens as an ornamental. Leaves are compound, drooping, purplish when young and green when mature. Flowers are fragrant, scarlet orange, borne in dense clusters. Fruits are flat, woody, dehiscent pods.
Its stem bark is used to prepare Ashokarishta, an Ayurvedic tonic for menstruation related problems in women.
It is also mentioned in the ancient Indian epic Ramayana in reference to Ashoka vatika (garden of Ashoka trees), where Ravana kept Sita captive.
According to the IUCN Red List, it is vulnerable in the wild and becoming rarer in its natural habitat.
Common name often get confused with False Ashoka (Monoon longifolium). This tree can easily be distinguished by its tall habit, simple leaves and very different flowers and fruits than Ashoka.


Notes: This plant has been recorded as a new larval host for Jamides bochus – Dark Cerulean by Nitin Kawthankar from Bengaluru, Karnataka in February 2023.



Nitin, R., V. C. Balakrishnan, P. V. Churi, S. Kalesh, S. Prakash, and K. Kunte. 2018. Larval host plants of the butterflies of the Western Ghats, India. Journal of Threatened Taxa, 10:11495–11550. DOI:

WFO (2023): World Flora Online. Accessed on 08 Jan 2023. URL:

Flowers of India (2023). Accessed on 08 Jan 2023. URL:

Page citation

Kawthankar, N. 2024. Saraca asoca (Roxb.) Willd. – Ashoka. In Kunte, K., S. Sondhi, and P. Roy (Chief Editors). Butterflies of India, v. 4.12. Published by the Indian Foundation for Butterflies. URL:, accessed 2024/07/16.