Mountain Ash

Botanical and Common Names

  • Family Rosaceae
  • Sorbus aucuparia (Mountain Ash, Eastern/European Mountain Ash, Mountain Ash Berry, Rowan Tree, Witchen, Sorb Apple, Quick-Beam)
  • Sorbus domestica (Ash, Sorvice Tree, Cheque Tree)
  • Sorbus torminalis (Wild Service Tree, Wild Sorvice, Ashe)

Cautions

  • The seeds contain cyanogenic glycosides which, when in contact with water, produce the extremely poisonous prussic acid. Therefore, they must be removed before using the fruit as a medicine or a food.

Description

 The deciduous tree is found growing throughout the northern hemisphere, reaching heights of forty feet. The tree has reddish bark, compound leaves, clusters of small, white flowers that develop into clusters of red-orange berries. Often found in woodlands, it is also cultivated as an ornamental tree. The fruit is harvested in the fall.

History

 In the Scottish Highlands, the ash was believed to be a reliable antidote to witchcraft; thus, many highlanders planted it near their houses. They also believed that, by driving their cattle with ash switches, they were protecting them from evil influences.

The fruit has long been used to make jams and jellies.

Key Actions

  • astringent
  • antidiarrheal
  • antiseptic
  • anti-scurvy agent
  • anti-inflammatory

Key Components

  • tannins
  • sorbitol
  • malic and sorbic acids
  • sugars
  • vitamin C
  • pectin

Medicinal Parts

  • Fruit

Traditional Uses

 The fruit has long been used, either in jams, as infusions, to treat diarrhea, hemorrhoids, kidney disease, diabetes, rheumatism, disorders of the uric acid metabolism, menstrual disturbances, the alkalization of the blood, to improve metabolism, and for vitamin C deficiency.

Infusions were also used as gargles for sore throats or as washes for hemorrhoids or excessive vaginal discharges.