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Common Name: Manna Ash
Fraxinus ornus is a Deciduous Tree up to 9.00 metres tall.
It has edible and medicinal uses.
Contact with the sap has caused skin or systemic allergic reactions in some people[
S. Europe to W. Asia.
Mixed woodland, thickets and rocky places[
], mainly on limestone[
Prefers a deep loamy soil, even if it is on the heavy side[
]. Most members of this genus are gross feeders and require a rich soil[
]. Succeeds in exposed positions[
] and in alkaline soils[
]. Requires a moist soil according to some reports[
] whilst another says that it succeeds in drier soils[
]. Plants are tolerant of atmospheric pollution[
Although the dormant plant is very cold-hardy, the young growth in spring, even on mature plants, is frost-tender and so it is best to grow the plants in a position sheltered from the early morning sun[
A very ornamental plant[
], the manna ash is cultivated for its edible manna in Sicily and Calabria[
]. The flowers are sweetly scented[
Trees have a very dense canopy[
A dioecious species - both male and female forms must be grown if fruit and seed are required.
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[
The manna obtained from the trunk is a gentle laxative and a tonic[
]. It is especially valuable for children and pregnant women[
]. Its action is normally very mild, though it does sometimes cause flatulence and pain[
The seed is best harvested green - as soon as it is fully developed but before it has fully dried on the tree - and can then be sown immediately in a cold frame[
]. It usually germinates in the spring[
]. Stored seed requires a period of cold stratification and is best sown as soon as possible in a cold frame[
]. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and grow them on in a cold frame for their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions or a nursery bed in late spring or early summer of the following year.
If you have sufficient seed then it is possible to sow it directly into an outdoor seedbed, preferably in the autumn. Grow the seedlings on in the seedbed for 2 years before transplanting either to their permanent positions or to nursery beds.