Alstonia constricta – Bitterbark (plant)
A member of the Apocynaceae family, Alstonia constricta is native to the central and southern areas of Queensland, and also the far north coast, northwest slopes and northwest plains of NSW. A shrub or tree 10-12 metres tall, the outer bark is fissured and corky, the inner bark is yellow and intensely bitter to the taste.
Stem bark has been used as a tonic and has been said to be useful during flu and early stages of typhoid fever, although it has little antimalarial activity (Lassak & McCarthy, 1983). The milky sap which exudes from cut stems and leaves has been used for infectious sores but can be severe to the skin.
Reported in the literature to contain: several alkaloids in the stem bark including alstonine, alstonidine, etc, whilst the root bark contains reserpine, vincamajine, alstonidine, etc. (Lassak & McCarthy, 1983). The root bark fluoresces strongly under UV light due to the presence of beta carboline alkaloids, but as some may affect the heart rate (reserpine), self experimentation would be inadvisable. Regional variations may show chemical variation and should be further investigated.
Care and Cultivation of Alstonia constricta
Alstonia constricta is a wide spread species and is tolerant of many conditions, particularly liking the dried regions. Drought tolerant and hardy species once established.
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