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Celtis australis, commonly known as the European nettle tree, Mediterranean hackberry, lote tree, or honeyberry,[1] is a deciduous tree that can grow 20 or 25 meters in height.

Leaves: Simple, alternate, and sharp-toothed are rough on top, and furry underneath, 5 to 15 cm long and dark grey/green throughout the year fading to a pale yellow before falling in autumn.

Flowers: The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) small and green without petals, either singly or in small clusters. Not effective ornamentally.

Fruit: Small, dark-purple berry-like drupes, 1 cm wide hang in short clusters and are extremely popular with birds and other wildlife.

Bark: Smooth, gray bark develops picturesque corky warts and ridges as it matures.

Habitat

The plant prefers light (sandy) and medium (loamy) soils, requires well-drained soil and can grow in nutritionally poor soil. It cannot grow in the shade. It requires dry or moist soil and can tolerate drought. The Mediterranean climate is especially suitable for the plant.

In India, in the Urdu/Hindi language it is called “khark”.[2]

This tree is also widely found in the Middle-East.

In the north of Iran this tree has a sacred aspect.[citation needed]

Uses

It is often planted as an ornamental as it is resistant to air pollution and long-living. The fruit of this tree is sweet and edible, and can be eaten raw or cooked. The leaves and fruit are astringent, lenitive and stomachic. Decoction of both leaves and fruit is used in the treatment of amenorrhoea, heavy menstrual and intermenstrual bleeding and colic. The decoction can also be used to astringe the mucous membranes in the treatment of diarrhoea, dysentery and peptic ulcers. A yellow dye is obtained from the bark. Wood – very tough, pliable, durable. Widely used by turners. The flexible thin shoots are used as walking sticks.

History

The European Nettle, Celtis australis, is supposed to have been the Lotus of the ancients, whose fruit Herodotus, Dioscorides, and Theophrastus describe as sweet, pleasant, and wholesome. Homer has Ulysses refer to the “Lotus-eaters” and the “lotus” in Odyssey, Book IX.[3] The fruit and its effects are described in Tennyson’s poem The Lotos-Eaters.

Secondary metabolites

The leaves of Celtis australis are a rich source of flavonoid C-glycosides.[4][5] Young leaves of Celtis australis from Northern Italy were found to contain the highest amounts of phenolics per gram dry weight. Amounts rapidly decreased until mid-May and after this date the level of phenolics fluctuated but showed no discernible trend. This general trend of high amounts of phenolics in the early growing season and a fast decline affected both caffeic acid derivatives and flavonoids.[6]

Written on October 15th, 2012 , Fruits Tags:

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