Forest crops: Southern ash

Forest crops: Southern ash

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Classification, origin and diffusion

Division: Spermatophyta
Subdivision: Angiospermae
Class: Dicotyledones
Family: Oleaceae

The Southern Ash is found in southern Europe, from the Iberian Peninsula and from France to the Caucasus. In Italy it is present in all regions.

Southern ash - Fraxinus angustifolia Vahl susp. oxycarpa (Willd.) Franco Rocha Afonso
(photo Rolando Cherubini

Manna harvest (photo

Madonie Manna obtained from the sap of Southern Ash (photo

General characteristics

Habit, trunk and bark
It can reach 25 meters in height; the foliage is rather dense, expanded more horizontally and compact. The trunk has light brown cracked rind in small quadrangular plates.
The leaves are deciduous, opposite, petiolate, up to 20 cm long, with a spiked blade with 5-13 lanceolate segments.
Reproductive structures
The flowers lack perianth and develop in short racemose peaks in winter. The fruit is a lanceolate samara with the acute wing tip.


The wood is less valuable than that of the greater ash. Southern ash is widely used in street furniture, in avenues and in parks. In Sicily (Madonie) there are still crops for the production of manna, making incisions along the trunks in the summer months. The liquid that escapes grows along the trunk or flows to the foot of the plant.When it grows along the trunk, it forms the cannòli.When it flows up to the foot of the plant, it takes the name of manna in fate.

Properties and uses of Manna

The chemical composition of manna is very complex and variable, depending on the species and cultivars from which it is extracted. The most abundant active ingredient is mannite or D-mannitol, a colorless, odorless and sugary hexavalent alcohol also known as the manna sugar. There are also several others
substances such as glucose, fructose, mannotriose, mannotetrose, mineral elements, organic acids, water, and other minor components not yet well identified.
Manna is a pharmacologically important substance because it is used against various pathologies.
It is mainly used to combat constipation problems and as a purgative without secondary actions, both in childhood and adulthood. In cases of poisoning, mannite produces an increase in diuresis and thus favors the removal of the body's toxic substances through the kidneys. In hypertonic solutions it is used to remove pulmonary and cerebral edemas. Lamanna is also recommended for the removal of intestinal parasites. In moderate doses it stimulates the secretion of the viabiliary. Furthermore, being well tolerated by diabetics, it can also be used as a food sweetener.
The varieties of F. angustifolia subsp. angustifolia provide more abundant productions than those of F. ornus and have the advantage of going into production very early, since the first days of July. The manna of the southern ash, compared to that of the ash is, however, qualitatively less valuable, has a less sweet taste and does not highlight the typical white-candida coloring of the manna produced by the cultivars of F. ornus but, on the contrary, has a tendency to soften yellowing or take on a more or less intense reddish color with the passing of the months.
More information about the windfall

Video: Ash dieback: the crisis facing Britains forests (July 2022).


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