Herb: Sitka Mountain Ash


Latin name: Sorbus sitchensis


Family: Rosaceae (Rose Family)



Medicinal use of Sitka Mountain Ash:

An infusion of the branches has been given to young children with bed-wetting problems. An infusion of the root and branch bark has been drunk in the treatment of stomach problems and rheumatism. The infusion can also be used externally as a bath for treating rheumatism. A decoction of the root and branch bark has been used as an eyewash. The bark has been chewed in the treatment of colds. An infusion of the branches has been used in the treatment of weak kidneys in order to stop the frequent urination.

Description of the plant:



Plant:
Deciduous
Shrub

Height:
180 cm
(6 feet)

Flovering:
May

Habitat of the herb:

Found mainly on rich moist soils along the borders of streams, or rocky hillsides, usually in association with conifers.

Edible parts of Sitka Mountain Ash:

Fruit - raw or cooked in pies, preserves etc. Of poor quality. The fruit turns sweeter and so tastes best after a frost. The fruit is produced in clusters, each fruit being about 6 - 12mm in diameter.

Other uses of the herb:

This species is capable of growing in exposed conditions in poor soils, and so could be used in re-afforestation as a pioneer plant to provide suitable conditions for other woodland trees to be established. It is rather slow-growing, however, and would only be used in situations where faster species were not so suitable. The berries have been rubbed onto the scalp in order to get rid of lice. Wood - moderately light with little strength, it is of no commercial value.

Propagation of Sitka 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:

Found mainly on rich moist soils along the borders of streams, or rocky hillsides, usually in association with conifers.

Known hazards of Sorbus sitchensis:

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.