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Manna Ash

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  • Botanical: Fraxinus ornus
  • Family: Oleaceae
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Manna Ash

Botanical

Fraxinus ornus

Family

Oleaceae

Known as

Flowering Ash, South European flowering ash

Old Use

medical

Collection Times

July to the end of September

Aroma

sweet

Medicinal

flatulence, laxative

Stomach & Intestinal

flatulence, laxative

Properties

digestive

Description

Fraxinus ornus is a medium-sized deciduous tree growing to 15–25 m tall with a trunk up to 1 m diameter. The bark is dark grey, remaining smooth even on old trees. The buds are pale pinkish-brown to grey-brown, with a dense covering of short grey hairs. The leaves are in opposite pairs, pinnate, 20–30 cm long, with 5-9 leaflets; the leaflets are broad ovoid, 5–10 cm long and 2–4 cm broad, with a finely serrated and wavy margin, and short but distinct petiolules 5–15 mm long; the autumn colour is variable, yellow to purplish. The flowers are produced in dense panicles 10–20 cm long after the new leaves appear in late spring, each flower with four slender creamy white petals 5–6 mm long; they are pollinated by insects. The fruit is a slender samara 1.5-2.5 cm long, the seed 2 mm broad and the wing 4–5 mm broad, green ripening brown.

Properties & Uses

Manna - a sweetish exudate is obtained from the stems by incision. The quality is better from the upper stems. A mild sweet taste, its main use is as a mild and gentle laxative, though it is also used as a sweetener in sugar-free preparations and as an anti-caking agent. The tree trunk must be at least 8 cm in diameter before the manna can be harvested. A vertical series of oblique incisions are made in the trunk in the summer once the tree is no longer producing many new leaves. One cut is made every day from July to the end of September. A whitish glutinous liquid exudes from this cut, hardens and is then harvested. Dry and warm weather is essential if a good harvest is to be realised[4]. The tree is harvested for 9 consecutive years, which exhausts the tree. This is then cut down, leaving one shoot to grow back. It takes 4 - 5 years for this shoot to become productive. Average yields of 6 kilos per hectare of top quality manna, plus 80 kilos of assorted manna are achieved

Cautions

Contact with the sap has caused skin or systemic allergic reactions in some people

Distribution

native to southern Europe and southwestern Asia, from Spain and Italy north to Austria, Poland and the Czech Republic, and east through the Balkans, Turkey, and western Syria to Lebanon and Armenia.

Constituents

Manna of the best quality dissolves in about 6 parts of water, forming a clear liquid. It has no bitterness or acridity. The chief constituent of Manna is a peculiar, crystallizable, sweet principle called Mannite or Manna Sugar, present to the extent of about 70 per cent. It also contains a fluorescent body named Fraxin, which occasionally gives a greenish colour to Manna and on which is thought to depend its purgative property. Some true sugar and a small quantity of mucilage are also present. Mannite is white, inodorous, crystallizable in semi-transparent needles of a sweetish taste, soluble in 5 parts of cold water, scarcely soluble in cold alcohol, but readily dissolved by alcohol when hot and deposited when cool. Unlike sugar, it is incapable of undergoing vinous fermentation.

For educational purposes only This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.