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Botanical Name : Fraxinus ornus
Species: F. ornus
Synonym: Flake Manna.
Common Names:Manna, Manna ash or South European flowering ash
Habitat :Fraxinus ornus is 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. It grows in mixed woodland, thickets and rocky places, mainly on limestone
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.
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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.
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 8cm 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. 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.
Manna has a peculiar odour and a sweetish taste.
It was formerly used in medicine as a gentle laxative, but is now chiefly used as a children’s laxative or to disguise other medicines.
It is a nutritive and a gentle tonic, usually operating mildly, but in some cases produces flatulence and pain.
It is still largely consumed in South America and is official in the United States Pharmacopoeia.
It is generally given dissolved in water or some aromatic infusion, but the best Flake Manna may be administered in substance, in doses of a teaspoonful up to 1 or 2 oz.
Usually it is prescribed with other purgatives, particularly senna, rhubarb, magnesia and the neutral salts, the taste of which it conceals while it adds to the purgative effect.
For infants, a piece about the size of a hazel-nut is dissolved in a little warm water and added to the food. To children, 30 to 60 grams may be given dissolved in warm milk or a mixture prepared with syrup, or syrup of senna and dill water.
Syrups of Manna are prepared with or without other purgatives.
Manna is sometimes used as a pill excipient, especially for calomel.
Fraxinus ornus is frequently grown as an ornamental tree in Europe north of its native range, grown for its decorative flowers (the species is also sometimes called “Flowering Ash”). Some cultivated specimens are grafted on rootstocks of Fraxinus excelsior, with an often very conspicuous change in the bark at the graft line to the fissured bark of the rootstock species.
Known Hazards : Contact with the sap has caused skin or systemic allergic reactions in some people.
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.