The medicinal parts are the ripe or dried fruit.
Flower and Fruit
The inflorescence is broadly umbelliferous-paniculate, erect, floriferous, loosely tomentose, occasionally completely or almost completely glabrous. The calyx has 5 segments. There are 5 white petals and numerous stamens. The ovary is inferior and has 2 to 4 free styles, which are pubescent in the lower portion. The false fruit is almost globular with a diameter of 9 to 10 mm and is scarlet. There are usually 3 seeds, which are narrow-oblong, acute, and reddish.
Leaves, Stem, and Root
The plant is usually a medium-sized tree up to 16 m high with a round, rather loose crown. The bark is smooth and pale gray, later becoming vertically fissured and blackish. The leaves are odd-pinnate with 5 to 11 almost sessile leaflets. These are oblong-lanceolate, irregularly thorny-tipped and serrate, pubescent, or almost glabrous.
The flowers have an unpleasant smell and the berries are sharp-tasting and sour. Sorbus moravica tastes sweet in contrast.
The plant is indigenous to almost all of Europe, to Western Siberia and Asia Minor, and is found in North America.
Mountain Ash Berry consists of the fresh or dried fruit, or fruit cooked and dried thereafter, of Sorbus aucuparia as well as its preparations. The ripe, shiny red fruit is harvested from August to October
European Mountain Ash, Quick-Beam, Rowan Tree, Sorb Apple, Witchen
Actions & Pharmacology
Cyanogenic glycosides (0.06%; in the seeds 0.2 to 0.5%; traces in the fruit pulp): in the seeds amygdalin, in the fruit pulp prunasin
Fruit acids: malic acid (3 to 5%), tartaric acid
Monosaccharides/oligosaccharides: saccharose, glucose, fructose, sorbose
Parasorboside (bitter substance): parasorbic acid is formed from it through cell destruction (lactone of the (5S)-Hydroxyhex-2-en-acid-1, pungent in odor, mucus-membrane-irritating, 0.1 to 0.3% of the fresh weight). Parasorbic acid is destroyed through dehydration or volatilized during cooking. It is present only in traces (less than 0.01%) in the cultivated variety, which contains few bitter substances.
Sugar alcohols: sorbitol
Vitamins: ascorbic acid (vitamin C, 0.03 to 0.13%, higher content in the non-bitter fruits)
The parascorbic acid is weakly laxative and irritating to the mucous membrane. Ascorbic acid is a vitamin C supplement.
Indications & Usage
Mountain Ash is used in folk medicine for kidney diseases, diabetes, rheumatism, disorders of uric acid metabolism, for dissolution of uric acid deposits, menstruation disturbances, the alkalization of the blood, to improve the metabolism, and for vitamin C deficiency.
Precautions & Adverse Reactions
No health hazards or side effects are known in conjunction with the proper administration of designated therapeutic dosages of the dehydrated drug or with the consumption of fruit sauces, juices, jellies, jams, etc., produced through cooking.
Because of the formation of the mucus-membrane-irritating parasorboside that results from cutting up the fruit, the intake of very large quantities of the fresh fruit leads to gastroenteritis, vomiting, queasiness, gastric pain, diarrhea, kidney damage (albuminuria, glycosuria), and to polymorphic exanthemas.
Mode of Administration
Mountain Ash is available as whole and crude drug forms.
A purée is used for diarrhea. Freshly pressed juice (or juice with sugar) is taken by the dessertspoonful for conditions of the lungs and pleura with fever.