Mountain-ash

Botanical Name : Pyrus Aucuparia
Family: Rosaceae
Genus: Sorbus
Subgenus: Sorbus
Section: Sorbus
Species: S. aucuparia
Kingdom: Plantae
Order:     Rosales

Synonym: Sorbus aucuparia, Rowan Tree.

Common Names: Rowan and mountain-ash,  Amur mountain-ash, European mountain-ash, quick beam, quickbeam, or rowan-berry

Habitat ; Mountain-ash  is  native to certain areas; a recent definition includes trees native to most of Europe and parts of Asia, as well as northern Africa. The range extends from Madeira and Iceland to Russia and northern China. Unlike many plants with similar distributions, it is not native to Japan.

Description:
Mountain-ash is a deciduous tree or shrub.It has a slender trunk with smooth bark, a loose and roundish crown, and its leaves are pinnate in pairs of leaflets on a central vein with a terminal leaflet. It blossoms from May to June in dense corymbs of small yellowish white flowers and develops small red pomes as fruit that ripen from August to October and are eaten by many bird species. The plant is undemanding and frost hardy and colonizes disrupted and inaccessible places as a short-lived pioneer species.

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Medicinal Uses:
Parts Used: Bark, fruit:
Constituents; The fruit contains tartaric acid before, citric and malic acids after ripening; two sugars, sorbin and sorbit, the latter after fermentation; parasorbic acid, which is aromatic and is converted into isomeric sorbic acid by heating under pressure with potassa; bitter, acrid and colouring matters. A crystalline saccharine principle, Sorbitol, which does not undergo the vinous fermentation, has also been found in the fruit.

The seeds contain 22 per cent. of fixed oil. It has been claimed that these seeds killed a child, apparently by prussic acid poisoning.

The bark has a soft, spongy, yellowishgrey outer layer and an inner thicker portion, with many layers of a light brown colour. It has a bitterish taste, but is odourless.

It is astringent and also yields amygdalin.

In herbal medicine, a decoction of the bark is given for diarrhoea and used as a vaginal injection in leucorrhoea, etc.

The ripe berries furnish an acidulous and astringent gargle for sore throats and inflamed tonsils. For their anti-scorbutic properties, they have been used in scurvy. The astringent infusion is used as a remedy in haemorrhoids and strangury.

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The fruit is a favourite food of birds. A delicious jelly is made from the berries, which is excellent with cold game or wild fowl, and a wholesome kind of perry or cider can also be made from them.

In Northern Europe they are dried for flour, and when fermented yield a strong spirit. The Welsh used to brew an ale from the berries, the secret of which is now lost .

Other Different Uses:
Fruit of S. aucuparia were used in the past to lure and catch birds. To humans, the fruit are bitter, astringent, laxative, diuretic, cholagogue, prevent scurvy, and the parasorbic acid irritates the gastric mucosa. Pharmacist Mannfried Pahlow wrote that he doubted the toxicity of the fruit but advised against consuming large amounts. The fruit contain sorbitol, which can be used as a sugar substitute by diabetics, but its production is no longer relevant.[44] Sorbus aucuparia fruits have been used in the traditional Austrian medicine internally (as tea, syrup, jelly or liqueur) for treatment of disorders of the respiratory tract, fever, infections, colds, flu, rheumatism and gout.

Fresh fruit are usually unpalatable, but they can be debittered and made into compote, jelly, jam, a tangy syrup, a tart chutney, or juice, as well as wine and liqueur, or used for tea or to make flour. Fruit are served as a side dish to lamb or game. Debittering can be accomplished by freezing, cooking, or drying, which degrades the parasorbic acid. The fruit are red colored in August but usually only harvested in October after the first frost by cutting the corymbs. The robust qualities of S. aucuparia make it a source for fruit in harsh mountain climate and Maria Theresa of the Habsburg Monarchy recommended the planting of the species in 1779

An edible variety, named Sorbus aucuparia var. dulcis Kraetzl, or var. edulis Dieck, or var. moravica Dippel, was first discovered in 1810 near Ostružná in the Hrubý Jeseník mountain range of Northern Moravia and became widespread in Germany and Austria the early 20th century.  Its leaves are larger and pointed, only the front part of the leaflets is serrated, and they have darker bark, larger buds and larger fruit.  Similar non-bitter varieties found in Southern Russia were first introduced in Central Europe in 1900 as ‘Rossica’ and ‘Rossica Major’, which has large fruit up to 1.5 cm in diameter.

Two widespread cultivars of the Moravian variety are ‘Konzentra’ and ‘Rosina’, which were selected beginning in 1946 by the Institut für Gartenbau Dresden-Pillnitz, an agricultural research institute in Saxony, from 75 specimen found mostly in the Ore Mountains, and made available in 1954.  Fruit of the more widely used ‘Konzentra’ are small to medium-sized, mildly aromatic and tart, easier to transport because of their thicker peel, and used for juicing, while fruit of ‘Rosina’ are larger, sweet and tart, and aromatic, and candied or used in compote. The two cultivars are self-pollinating, yield fruit early, and the sugar content increases while the acid content decreases as the fruit ripen. ‘Beissneri’ is a cultivar with reddish foliage and bark and serrated leaves. Other edible varieties originate in and are named after Klosterneuburg, Lower Austria.

Russian botanist Ivan Vladimirovich Michurin began in 1905 to crossbreed common S. aucuparia with other species to create fruit trees. His experiments resulted in the cultivars ‘Burka’, ‘Likjornaja’, ‘Dessertnaja’, ‘Granatnaja’, ‘Rubinovaja’, and ‘Titan’. Other S. aucuparia hybrids planted in Western Europe beginning in the 1980s include ‘Apricot Queen’, ‘Brilliant Yellow’, ‘Chamois Glow’, ‘Pink Queen’, and ‘Salmon Queen’.

The leaves were fermented with leaves of sweet gale and oak bark to create herb beer.[44] Fruit are eaten as a mash in small amounts against lack of appetite or an upset stomach and stimulate production of gastric acid.[43] In folk medicine they are used as a laxative, against rheumatism and kidney disease, and as a gargled juice against hoarseness.

Wood of S. aucuparia is used for cartwright’s work, turner’s work, and woodcarving. Wood can be used from trees as young as 20 years. In almost treeless regions it is used as firewood. The leaves are sometimes used as fodder for livestock while the fruit are used against erysipeloid infections in domestic pigs and goats. Bark of the plant was used to dye wool brown or red. Honey from S. aucuparia flowers is strongly aromatic and has a reddish color.

S. aucuparia is planted in mountain ranges to fortify landslides and avalanche zones. It is also used as an ornamental plant in parks, gardens, or as an avenue tree. Ornamental cultivars include ‘Asplenifolia’, which has divided and sharply serrated leaflets, ‘Blackhawk’, which has large fruit and dark green foliage, ‘Fastigiata’, which has an upright columnar form, ‘Fructu Luteo’, which has orange yellow fruit, ‘Michred’, which has brilliant red fruit, ‘Pendula’, which is a weeping tree, ‘Sheerwater Seedling’, which is upright and slender, and ‘Xanthocarpa’, which has orange yellow fruit.  Cultivars are vegetatively propagated via cuttings, grafting, or shield budding.

Disclaimer:
The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.

Resources:
http://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/a/ashmo076.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sorbus_aucuparia

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