An Eco-sustainable World
ArborealSpecies Plant

Sorbus aria

Sorbus aria

The whitebeam or common whitebeam (Sorbus aria (L.) Crantz 1763), reclassified as Aria edulis (Willd.) M.Roem., 1847 is an arboreal species belonging to the Rosaceae family.

Systematic –
From a systematic point of view it belongs to the Eukaryota Domain, Kingdom Plantae, Subarranean Tracheobionta, Spermatophyta Superdivision, Magnoliophyta Division, Magnoliopsida Class, Subclass Rosidae, Order Rosales, Family Rosaceae and therefore to the Genus Sorbus and to the Specie S. aria.

Etymology –
The term Sorbus comes from sorbus, the name of the rowan in Pliny and Columella, derived from sórbeo sorbire, perhaps referring to the ripe and soft fruit from which to sip the fermented juice. The specific air epithet derives from Aria from Herat today, the capital of an ancient Aryan region occupied by the Aries, in western Asia (today Iran).

Geographic Distribution and Habitat –
The White Beam is a plant native to central-southern Europe and North Africa. It is located up to 1600 meters above sea level, in particular in the area of ​​the oak woods and in the rocky areas. In Italy it is present in all regions.

Description –
Sorbus aria is an arboreal species that grows in the form of a sapling or tree up to 12 m in height. It has a gray bark with linear lenticels; the young branches are pubescent, then glabrous, of reddish-brown color. The trunk is straight, therefore more or less twisted and gnarled.The leaves are alternate, with petiole, with an elliptic to ovate shape with an acute apex and irregularly serrated margins. The upper page is dark green while the lower one is silvery. It produces inflorescences reunited with upright cymbals of 5-8 cm with white flowers. The fruits are ellipsoidal pomes of 1.5 cm, of an orange-red color when ripe. The exocarp is fleshy, a bit ‘floury, but pleasantly sweet.

Cultivation –
For the cultivation of White Beam, remember that it is a plant that prefers dry soils and grows well even in stony places; it is therefore a rustic plant with limited needs also from a nutritional point of view. Instead it needs areas with abundant light and resists very well in the cold. The ripening of the fruits occurs in the period from September to October. As with other plants that have become marginal, its cultivation would also be necessary to give a greater biodiversity of flowering for pollinating insects.

Uses and Traditions –
Sorbus aria was used in the past, especially in difficult periods, as the fruits constituted a source of sustenance due to their high starch and sugar content. Today it is used for trees also because, for most of the year, it is very attractive thanks to the spring and autumn color of the leaves and that of the fruits.
Once upon a time the fruits were also consumed for human consumption and in times of famine, given their floury pulp, they were ground and mixed with flour to make bread. They can be used to flavor grappa, with an excellent result. At one time perhaps a brandy was also made from it. As with the mountain ash (Sorbus aucuparia), the berries are palatable to birds and were once used by hunters as bait.
Other uses include agroforestry uses
It is a plant that is very tolerant of exposed maritime conditions, makes a good windbreak tree near the coast and is, therefore, a useful pioneer species, especially on calcareous soils and in windy situations.
This plant is one of the first colonizers of the chalky scrub.
As well as being a good pioneer species for this situation, it often survives through development in woodlands.
Furthermore, the wood is generally yellowish-brown, but sometimes white. It is hard, heavy, fine-grained. It is used for beams, aisles and wheel edges, carpenter’s tools, walking sticks, cutlery handles, etc.

Preparation Method –
The fruits of the whitebeam, although no longer used for human consumption today, at least if not sporadically, are used in certain typical regional recipes to prepare jams and jellies. The fruits are excellent for flavoring grappa and it is probable that in the past a brandy was produced from them.
The fruits are eaten both raw and cooked and used in preserves, etc. Fruit is usually chopped into pieces if eaten raw.
This involves storing the fruit in a cool, dry place until it is mostly, but not quite, rotten. At this stage the fruit tastes delicious, a bit like a succulent tropical fruit.
The fruit of some trees has a pleasant, delicate flavor and a floury texture.
The fruit can also be dried and ground into a powder and mixed with grains such as wheat.
In the medicinal field both the flowers and the fruit are mildly diuretics, laxatives and emmenagogues.
An infusion is used in the treatment of painful menstruation, constipation and kidney disorders.

Guido Bissanti

– Acta Plantarum – Flora of the Italian Regions.- Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.- Treben M., 2000. Health from the Pharmacy of the Lord, Advice and experience with medicinal herbs, Ennsthaler Editore- Pignatti S., 1982. Flora d ‘Italia, Edagricole, Bologna.- Conti F., Abbate G., Alessandrini A., Blasi C. (edited by), 2005. An annotated checklist of the Italian vascular flora, Palombi Editore.

Warning: Pharmaceutical applications and alimurgical uses are indicated for informational purposes only and do not in any way represent a medical prescription; there is therefore no liability for their use for curative, aesthetic or food purposes.

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