Saraca indica (syn. Saraca asoca)
Common Name: Ashoka tree, Ashok (Hindi), Asogam (Tamil), Ashokam / Madhupushpam (Sanskrit)
Distribution: Central and Eastern Himalayas, Northern plains, Orissa and the West coast.
In Religion and Mythology
Devi Sita in Ashoka vatika
The tree is sacred to the Hindus. There are numerous legends that revolve around the tree. One legend has it that when Goddess Parvathi asked Lord Shiva about the importance of the ashoka tree, he replied that it is a wish-fulfilling tree. The Goddess tested the tree by asking for a daughter and immediately a beautiful girl appeared. Goddess Parvathi named her Ashokasundari.
The tree finds mention in the epic Ramayana as the Ashoka vana / vatika (grove of Ashoka tree) in Lanka, where Sita was held in captivity by Ravana. It is believed that Sita spent her sorrowful days under an Ashokatree. Hanuman met Sita for the first time also under the same tree.