The White Beam (Sorbus aria (L.) Crantz 1763) is an arboreal species belonging to the Rosaceae family.
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.
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.
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.
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 –
The Sorbus aria was used in the past, especially in difficult periods, as the fruits were a source of sustenance for their high content in starch and sugars. Today it is used for trees because, for most of the year, it is very attractive thanks to the spring and autumn color of the leaves and to the fruit. Once the fruits were also consumed for human consumption and in times of famine, given their floury pulp, 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 obtained. As for the rowan of the birds (Sorbus aucuparia), the berries are appetite to the birds and once they were used by the hunters as bait.
Preparation Mode –
The fruits of White Beam, although today no longer used for human food, at least if not sporadically, are used certain typical regional recipes, to prepare jams and jellies. The fruits are excellent for flavoring grappa and it is likely that in times past a brandy produced from them.
– 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.