Herb: Manna Plant


Latin name: Tamarix gallica


Family: Tamaricaceae (Tamarisk Family)



Medicinal use of Manna Plant:

The branchlets and the leaves are astringent and diuretic. An external compress is applied to wounds to stop the bleeding. The manna produced on the plant is detergent, expectorant and laxative. Galls produced on the plant as a result of insect damage are astringent. They are used in the treatment of diarrhoea and dysentery.

Description of the plant:



Plant:
Deciduous
Shrub

Height:
4 m
(13 feet)

Flovering:
June to
August

Habitat of the herb:

Damp ground near the coast.

Edible parts of Manna Plant:

A manna is produced by the plants in response to insect damage to the stems. It is sweet and mucilaginous. There is some confusion over whether the manna is produced by the plant, or whether it is an exudation from the insects. The insects in question live in the deserts around Israel, it is not known if the manna can be produced in Britain.

Other uses of the herb:

Very tolerant of maritime exposure, it makes a good shelter hedge in coastal gardens. It dislikes being trimmed. The plant has a rather open habit, however, and so is not tremendously effective at reducing wind speeds. The extensive root system of this plant makes it suitable for use in erosion control in sandy soils. The plant contains a high level of tannin. Galls produced on the plant as a result of insect damage contain up to 40% tannin. The tannin can be used as a dyestuff for fabrics. (No details are given about the colour, though it is likely to be some shade of brown.) Wood - fairly hard, not strong, close grained, takes a high polish, it is often twisted or knotty. Used for general construction, poles, turnery. It makes a good fuel, burning well even when green due to the wax content of the wood.

Propagation of Manna Plant:

Seed - sow spring in a cold frame and only just cover the seed. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. Cuttings of half-ripe wood, July/August in a frame. Very easy. Cuttings of mature wood of the current seasons growth, 15 - 25cm long, planted outdoors in late autumn in a nursery bed or straight into their permanent position. High percentage.

Cultivation of the herb:

Damp ground near the coast.

Known hazards of Tamarix gallica:

None known

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.