Herb: Manna Ash

Latin name: Fraxinus ornus

Synonyms: Ornus europaea

Family: Oleaceae (Olive Family)

Medicinal use of Manna Ash:

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.

Description of the plant:


9 m
(30 feet)



Habitat of the herb:

Mixed woodland, thickets and rocky places, mainly on limestone.

Edible parts of Manna Ash:

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.

Propagation of the herb:

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.

Cultivation of Manna Ash:

Mixed woodland, thickets and rocky places, mainly on limestone.

Known hazards of Fraxinus ornus:

Contact with the sap has caused skin or systemic allergic reactions in some people.

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.