Service Tree

Sorbus domestica

Herbs gallery - Service Tree

Common names

  • Service Tree
  • Sorb Tree

Service tree (scientific name Sorbus domestica) belongs to the genus Sorbus and its native habitat include southern, central and western Europe, southwest Asia (east towards the Caucasus) and northwest Africa (in the Atlas mountains). It is also known as sorb tree owing to its fruit, to differentiate it from Sorbus torminalis - the service tree that grows in the wild.

The Sorbus domestica or service tree is a deciduous tree that belongs to the rose (Rosaceae) family. The service tree can often be found growing up to a height of 30 meters and having a diameter of 20 meters.

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When growing in the service tree has the ability to survive for no less than 100 year. This tree is in bloom during the spring and bears fruit during the period between late June and mid-October. The fruit of this plant is edible and its color may vary from vivid shades of orange and red to pink, yellow and white. The fruits are small and oval shaped. When eaten fresh, this fruit tastes somewhat bitter.

The bark of the service tree is brown hued. While the young trees have a smooth bark, those of the old trees are flaky and fissured. The buds are green and coated with a sticky resin during the winter months. The leaves of this tree are of 15 cm to 25 cm in length. The pinnate leaves each have 13-21 leaflets that are about 3 cm to 6 cm in length and roughly 1 cm in width. The apex of the leaflets is bluntly acute having serrated margin on two-thirds of the leaflet or on its outer half.

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The flowers of the service tree measure anything between 13 mm and 18 mm across. Each flower has five white petals and as many as 20 stamens that are creamy-white in color. In the latter part of spring, the stamens originate in corymbs that are about 10 cm to 14 cm in diameter. The flowers are hermaphrodite and pollinated by insects. The fruit of service tree is actually a porme measuring 2 cm to 3 cm in length. It has a greenish-brown hue, while the side that is exposed to sunlight often has a reddish tinge.

Parts used

Berries, leaves, bark.

Uses

The fruit of the service tree is actually a berry (called rowan berry), which is dried and pulverized into powder to cure problems related to the intestines, including diarrhea. A decoction prepared from the ripened berries has been traditionally used for curing swollen tonsils, sore throats and pain. Since the fruit is loaded with vitamin C, it has also been used to cure scurvy. The rowan berry possesses astringent properties and, hence, it has been traditionally used to treat a wide range of health issues even hemorrhoids. In addition, the berries of service tree have also been employed in the form of a laxative.

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As service tree berries are loaded with antioxidants the fruit of this tree has the potential to support the overall health and, at the same time, diminish the chances of developing various diseases. Many diseases, such as brain disease, heart disease and even cancer, often have their root in oxidative stress. These berries are not only beneficial for your overall health, but they also endorse your immune system. Findings of studies have hinted that service tree berries possess antibacterial properties that may be helpful in preventing as well as treating infections.

While the fruits are extremely beneficial for our health, even the leaves and bark of the service tree have been effectively used to treat a variety of health conditions. Traditionally, these parts of the treat have been employed for treating a wide range of ailments, including kidney and liver diseases, digestive problems and even diabetes.

The fruits of service tree contain high amounts of a variety of antioxidants, including scorbic acid and quercetin. Both these potent antioxidants have the potential to aid in preventing damage to the cells of our body by the detrimental free radicals, which we come across every day. It is worth mentioning here that free radicals are responsible for oxidative stress, which is the origin for several serious health conditions, heart disease, degenerative problems related to aging and even cancer.

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As of date, no studies have been undertaken to ascertain the effects of consuming rowan berries in treating serious ailments in humans. However, plenty of studies have been undertaken to find the benefits of vitamin C, and quercetin, which are found in abundant amounts in these berries. It has been found that these nutrients can diminish the chances of developing a variety of serious ailments, aside from inhibiting the aging process.

Antioxidants are beneficial not only for the health of our body cells and internal organs, but they also have the potential to help us to maintain our youthful skin for a prolonged period. In addition, the antioxidants also help in accelerating the healing process and put off the development of eye disease such as macular degeneration.

While rowan berries cannot be called a powerhouse of nutrients, they are certainly an excellent source of the essential vitamin C. It is vital for us to get enough vitamin C to ensure robust health. The fruit of service tree provides us with natural antioxidants, in addition to improving white blood cell production. Moreover, these berries also help to boost our immune system, which, in turn, assists in helping in keeping ailments at bay. These berries are also especially beneficial during the cold and flu season. Therefore, it is advisable that you consume jams and jellies made from these berries.

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Aside from functioning as a potent antioxidant, vitamin C also helps the body in performing several other vital functions. For instance, vitamin C helps the body to produce collagen, repair blood vessels and also enhance the muscle tissues' health. In addition, consuming rowan berries can also be beneficial for the health of the digestive system. We are all aware of the fact that a healthy digestive system is vital for our well-being and overall health.

Service tree berries contain reasonable amount of dietary fiber, which aids in adding bulk to stools and, at the same time, stimulates the digestive tract, thereby easing constipation. Moreover, consumption of foods made from these berries, such as jellies, jams and pies, help to relieve several other symptoms associated with poor digestion - for instance bloating, dyspepsia and cramps.

Traditionally, people have been using service tree berries to treat diarrhea. However, the exact reason how these berries help to cure diarrhea is yet to be ascertained.

Raw service tree berries contain a toxic substance called parasorbic acid, which transforms into beneficial scorbic acid when the berries are cooked to prepare various foods like jams, jellies and pies. Scorbic acid is a potential antioxidant that also possesses several other therapeutic properties. It is believed that scorbic acid possesses antimicrobial properties that help to eliminate bacteria from the skin, both internally as well as externally.

Various cosmetic products that are available commercially contain the extracts of service tree berries in the form of a vital ingredient. This is mainly because these berries possess antimicrobial properties and help to get rid of bacteria, thereby helping us to keep off various diseases.

Traditionally the juice of service tree berry has been employed to cure asthma as well as inflammation in the respiratory tract. In addition, the juice has been used to relief congestion of the respiratory tract and also to alleviate sore throats. However, it is still not clear how the juice of service tree helps curing respiratory problems. Probably, the antioxidant properties of the berries and the juice are responsible for this.

The fruit of service tree forms a component of a drink that is similar to cider. Till date, this drink is made in several regions of Europe. These fruits are picked directly from the tree and they are extremely gritty and astringent. However, if the fruits are allowed to blet or over-ripen, they become relatively sweeter and have a pleasant taste. It is interesting to note that a community in Czech Republic's Moravian Slovakia region actually runs a museum that conducts an educational course as well as organizes a festival for the service tree. During the festival, the community showcases the products made from the fruit, such as juice, jam and a type of brandy.

Culinary uses

The berries of service tree (rowan berries) are still not very popular among the people, but they have a wonderful taste when they are cooked or when you use them in jams, jellies and pies. The service berries also offer an amazing number of wonderful health benefits.

It is advisable that you do not eat the berries of service tree raw because they may prove to be toxic, especially when consumed in large amounts. Moreover, the raw berries have a very strong and bitter taste. However, when the berries are cooked, they are not harmful and taste better. On cooking, the toxic substance known as parasorbic acid turns into sorbic acid, which is beneficial for your health.

Hence, it is imperative that you cook the berries of service tree before consuming. You can make delectable jams and jellies with these berries.

Constituents

The fruit of the service tree is known as rowan berries, which enclose various vital nutrients including scorbic acid, vitamin C, vitamin E and dietary fibers. Similar to many other berries, rowan berries also contain elevated amounts of antioxidants such as quercetin among others that helps in protecting the body from enduring oxidative stress due to the detrimental free radicals.

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