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In the Madonie, Manna Falls from Ash Trees


Premium Manna from the Madonie

Manna is the solidified sugary sap that flows from incisions made on the trunk and main branches of several species of the genus Fraxinus in the summertime. Manna is a sugary exudate consisting mainly of mannite, organic acids, water, glucose, fructose, mucilage, resins and nitrogen compounds. The product has a very complex quantitative and qualitative composition that is strongly influenced by the source area, exposure, chemical characteristics of the soil, age of the plant and seasonal trends. Manna in “cannoli”, or long hollow tubes, is formed as sap drips down the bark, assuming the appearance of a stalactite. This is the most prized form of manna because it is almost completely free of impurities. Over the years, a system developed of using a nylon thread connected to a small steel plate placed under the incision, which allows for a harvest every two days instead of weekly with the traditional method. What’s more, the updated method results in longer, nearly pure “cannoli.” Immediately after World War II, the harvest suffered a rapid decline. Manna production was relegated to restricted areas of the Madonie district, particularly the areas around Castelbuono and Pollina. Here the last generation of ash grove cultivators – just over one hundred farmers – continue to keep the harvest alive. These “frassinicoltori” help ward off the disappearance of an agricultural heritage, one that played a leading role in the local economy for centuries and offers unique nutritional and organoleptic properties. 


Give Yourself the Gift of Well-Being

*Thanks to its complex composition, manna has many beneficial qualities that have been the subject of numerous university studies.

*Manna is rich in trace elements.
*Manna constitutes a pharmacologically important substance because it is used to treat various disorders. It is used to combat problems of constipation and as a mild laxative without side effects, for children as well as adults. Lentini et al., 1983

*Manna is a natural sweetener that is well tolerated by  diabetics because its main ingredient, D-Mannitol, is a colourless, odourless, sweet-tasting alcohol also known as manna sugar.

*Manna is used in numerous cosmetic products because it is a moisturizer, especially in sensitive skin or anti-aging formulas.

Scientific research

SCHICCHI R; CAMARDA L; SPADARO V; PITONZO R Caratterizzazione chimica della manna estratta nelle Madonie (Sicilia) da cultivar di Fraxinus angustifolia e di Fraxinus ornus (Oleaceae)

Looking beyond sugars: Phytochemical profiling and standardization of manna exudates from Sicilian Fraxinus excelsior L.

Augusta Caligiania, Letizia Tonellia, Gerardo Pallaa, Angela Marsegliaa, Damiano Rossib, Renato Brunia,  

“Only vestiges of the industry survive, but it is still worth preserving for its important environmental and historical value. The Presidium unites several growers who have drawn up a strict production protocol, with the aim of improving harvesting techniques and obtaining a better-quality product, but also to protect consumers from the many frauds on the market. Only the purest manna, called the ‘cannolo,’ is covered by the Presidium.”

“Greeks and Romans knew it by the name ‘honey dew’ or ‘secretion of the stars.’ Its etymology derives from the Hebrew ‘Mân Hu,’ ‘What is it?’ As Exodus 16 recounts, the hungry Israelites asked this question when they saw an unknown food falling from the sky, miraculously sent to them in the desert by God:”  manna

Alessandro Ricci 2011 

“One evening before returning to town, I said goodbye to my mother, who was mending some trousers. Passing through the field I saw a branch that formed an elbow, which manna was dripping down. I ran back, grabbed a spool of thread, returned to the ash tree and arranged it in such a way to correspond with the drip. Since the thread was fluttering about, I took a rock from the ground and tied it to the other end. In the morning I found a cannolo, a little bigger than a matchstick, that had thickened around the thread. Here, I understood, was the solution. Going back to town, I bought ten spools and started connecting the thread to the trees.”

Giulio Gelardi