Deciduous tree growing to 12 m (39 ft). Has reddish bark, compound leaves, clusters of small white flowers, and clusters of round red-orange fruit (berries). Also known as Rowan.
Habitat & Cultivation
Mountain ash grows in woodlands throughout the Northern Hemisphere. It is also cultivated as an ornamental tree.
The fruit contains tannins, sorbitol, malic and sorbic acids, sugars, and vitamin C. The seeds contain cyanogenic glycosides, which, in a reaction upon contact with water, produce the extremely poisonous prussic acid.
History & Folklore
In the Scottish Highlands, this tree was believed to be a reliable antidote to witchcraft. Highlanders planted it near their houses, and cowherds believed that by using an ash switch to drive their cattle they could protect them from evil influences. The fruit has long been used to make preserves and alcoholic drinks.
Medicinal Actions & Uses
The astringent mountain ash is most often taken as a jam or an infusion to treat diarrhea and hemorrhoids. In addition, infusions may be used as a gargle for sore throats and as a wash to treat hemorrhoids and excessive vaginal discharge.
Remove the toxic seeds prior to using the fruit as a medicine or a food.