Manna is the product of the solidification of sap in the bark of some types of ash (especially the fraxinus ornus). It’s a sugary compound suitable for both food uses (with therapeutic properties) and cosmetics (especially for its emollient properties). Manna is a very complex chemical compound: mannitol, a natural sweetener, is one of the main elements. Manna drips from the ashes after that collectors cut the bark.

Frassinocoltori (ash growers) craftsmanship is the union of different skills: from the choice of the best days in which to cut the barks to the accuracy of the incisions not to waste the sap. Ash growers have an in-depth knowledge of manna and of the trees from which it is extracted. The manna comes out of the trunk after the precise incision of the ash-cutter, allowing it to slowly escape and solidify, thus enabling the expert hands of the mannalori (manna pickers) to collect it within about a week with specific tools. Depending on the time of collection and the type of manna, distinguishing between purer or with more residual impurities, it is sorted and placed to dry in the sun. The most valuable manna is the one that, drying in the air, becomes almost transparent. The least valuable is the one that sticks on the bark and needs to be removed manually (grocer’s manna). Moreover, the care of the ash grove does not only involve the collection of the precious liquid from the tree trunks, but also the care of the ash grove itself. Frassinocoltori care for the ash grove throughout the year by first choosing the best seedlings to sow and then caring for the seedlings in special places until they are ready to be brought into the ash grove. The ash trees can be cutted from around their tenth year of life for about fifteen years, until they stop exuding manna.

Frassinocoltori and mannalori are very skilled. Their skills have been handed down over the years, keeping alive a Madonie’s culture that is unique in the world. Their link with the territory contributes to creating important people among them who become spokesmen of a very precious product: the unique result of a mix of environmental and soil factors.



Galati A., Migliore G., Scaffidi Saggio C., La rivalutazione della frassinicoltura per la produzione di manna come prodotto officinale in Workshop “Colture artificiali di piante medicinali”, Pisa, ottobre 2006, pp. 287-297
Giacomarra, M.G., I beni demoetnoantropologici in Sicilia. Itinerari di documentazione e fruizione delle testimonianze di cultura popolare, Fondazione Ignazio Buttitta, Palermo, 2016
Ruffino G., Frassini e manna in Sicilia in La cultura materiale in Sicilia, “Quaderni del Circolo Semiologico” 12-13, Palermo, 1980, pp. 355–372
REIS - Libro dei Mestieri, dei Saperi e delle Tecniche - Ciclo Produttivo della Manna e tradizione dei Mannaluori (last visited 23/06/2023)
Castelbuono - La manna di Sicilia, storia, proprietà e curiosità (last visited 18/02/2022)
Consorzio Manna Madonita (last visited 18/02/2022)
Proloco Catselbuono,%C3%A8%20reperibile%20tutto%20l'anno.&text=Comuni%20di%20Castelbuono%20e%20Pollina%20(provincia%20di%20Palermo) (last visited 23/06/2023)