Herb: Western Mountain Ash


Latin name: Sorbus scopulina


Synonyms: Sorbus sambucifolia


Family: Rosaceae (Rose Family)



Medicinal use of Western Mountain Ash:

An infusion of the branches has been given to young children with bed-wetting problems. The bark is febrifuge and tonic. It has been used in the treatment of general sickness.

Description of the plant:



Plant:
Deciduous
Shrub

Height:
4 m
(13 feet)

Flovering:
May

Habitat of the herb:

Canyons and wooded slopes, 1200 - 2700 metres in California. Moist and wet soils of hills and mountains to 2,700 metres.

Edible parts of Western Mountain Ash:

Fruit - raw, cooked in pies, preserves etc, or dried for later use. A bitter flavour. The fruit becomes sweeter and so tastes best after a frost, it can also be bletted if it is going to be eaten raw. This involves storing the fruit in a cool dry place until it is almost but not quite going rotten. At this stage the fruit of many species has a delicious taste, somewhat like a luscious tropical fruit. The fruit is up to 5mm across.

Other uses of the herb:

The wood is soft and weighs 37lb per cubic foot.

Propagation of Western Mountain Ash:

Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe in a cold frame. If you have sufficient seed it can be sown in an outdoor seedbed. Stored seed germinates better if given 2 weeks warm then 14 - 16 weeks cold stratification, so sow it as early in the year as possible. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle. Seedlings are very slow to put on top-growth for their first year or two, but they are busy building up a good root system. It is best to keep them in pots in a cold frame for their first winter and then plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring.

Cultivation of the herb:

Canyons and wooded slopes, 1200 - 2700 metres in California. Moist and wet soils of hills and mountains to 2,700 metres.

Known hazards of Sorbus scopulina:

The seeds probably contain hydrogen cyanide. This is the ingredient that gives almonds their characteristic flavour. Unless the seed is very bitter it should be perfectly safe in reasonable quantities. In small quantities, hydrogen cyanide has been shown to stimulate respiration and improve digestion, it is also claimed to be of benefit in the treatment of cancer. In excess, however, it can cause respiratory failure and even death.

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.