The amazing irga plant is a shrub or small tree. The botanical name for irga is Amelanchier. Canada is the birthplace of the plant; in the 16th-century, people learned about it in Europe. The plant grows in many regions, including Africa, America, Crimea, the Caucasus, and the Far East. You can often see irga berry in the forest, bushes, and in the mountains. People believe that migratory birds, who carried seeds, contributed to such widespread distribution of irga.
The berries are sweet, with a pleasant aftertaste, outwardly somewhat similar to currants. It is better to collect them only when fully ripe, so they are much more useful. Irga perfectly satisfies hunger and strengthens the immune system. Not only berries are useful, but also leaves, seeds, bark.
The name of irga differs among different peoples. In Russia the names such as the seabed, wineberry is popular, Italians call it a willow delicacy, the Germans call it a rock pear. The Canadians gave the plant the name Canadian medlar.
- some varieties grow up to 18 meters;
- if you eat a kilogram of berries at a time, you can fall asleep;
- dried berries are stored for up to 2 years;
- irga is one of the most beautiful ornamental plants;
- according to scientists, the scientific name “Amelanchier” has a Celtic origin, and the name “irga” is Mongolian and translates as “a plant with very hardwood.”
- the fruits of a plant from the point of view of botany are not berries at all, but small applies;
- in Canada, irga is grown mainly for winemaking.
Varieties and types of irga berry
There are about 25 species of irga, and the following ones are the most popular:
- Round-leaved, a shrub with ovoid leaves, grows up to 2.5 m. It blooms in May with white flowers. In July, bears fruit with blue-black berries with a bloom of bluish tint;
- ordinary, bush up to 3 meters in height, with a wide crown and thin branches. The flowers are pinkish, the berries are small, dark blue, with a white bloom;
- Canadian, blooms profusely, with white inflorescences. Grows up to 6 meters, gives large blue-black berries with a bloom;
- spicate grows up to 6 meters, blooms in May in bright pink or white flowers with protruding pistils. Fruits with berries of a dark purple hue with a bluish bloom;
- blood-red differs from other varieties with an ascending crown. Grows up to 3 meters. The berries are small, almost black;
- alder-leaved, a shrub with several trunks growing up to 4 meters in height. Flowering white, medium-sized berries, purple;
- Lamarca has a beautiful color of leaves in the autumn, which acquire a dark red or yellow tint. The berries are dark purple in color, very sweet and juicy, ripen in August. The plant can reach 18 meters in height, but in the climate of Canada, it does not grow above 5 meters;
- ballerina gives pods of dark red color, which gradually acquire a black tint. It grows up to 6 meters and has bronze-colored leaves, which gradually acquire a green tint.
Irga is very rich in useful trace elements and vitamins. 100 grams of berries contain 40 g of ascorbic acid. The berries contain pectin, flavonols, sugar, organic acids, phytosterols, and dietary fiber. The bark and leaves are rich in stearic and tannins. For the human body, irga has a great value due to its numerous properties:
- wound healing
With regular use of berries, blood pressure is noticeably reduced, the walls of blood vessels become more elastic and strong. Irga has a good effect on the work of the cardiovascular system.
Irga is also useful as a preventive measure against:
- varicose veins
- myocardial infarction
- stomach ulcers
- cancerous tumors
- bowel disorders
- sore throat
Useful properties of irga berry
Products that contain the berry help heal purulent wounds. Irga is a potent antioxidant and can cleanse the body of radionuclides and toxins. With the constant use of berries in food, cholesterol decreases, appetite, and the digestive tract work improve. The riboflavin contained in irga improves vision and metabolism.
It is beneficial, according to doctors, for older adults to use irga. Vitamin P protects the body from many diseases typical of old age, starting from 60 years.
For weight loss, berries are also very effective. The calorie content is only 45 kcal per 100 g. They satisfy hunger well, and mixed with currant juice of irga, if you use it correctly, allows you to get rid of 4 kg in a week.
Like any herbal product, irga has some contraindications. You should not use it when having:
- tendency to hypotension
- the body’s susceptibility to allergies
- individual intolerance
Irga – recipes
Irga is great to use in cooking because of its taste and sweetness. People make different jams from berries, also marshmallows, marmalade, and juices. Berry puree is popular to use for baking desserts. Berries and syrup go very well with ice cream, are great to prepare sauces for dishes. Liqueurs and wines from berries, which have a spicy and special taste, are very popular.
Decoctions and tea
In folk medicine, fruits, flowers, leaves, and bark of irga berry are widely used. People prepare tea and decoctions, which help restore the necessary level of trace elements in the body, strengthen immunity and health.
It’s popular to make the flower tincture based on vodka. If you have an intolerance to this drink, you can use clean water. For 3 tablespoons of dried flowers, you will need 2 cups of liquid. Flowers should insist on vodka for 3 days and then filter it out. If you prepare the tincture on water, wrap the container, brew, and filter. You should drink 1 tablespoon 20 minutes before meals, 3 times a day.
Berry juice is good to drink fresh, or you may dilute it with water or perform canning. Cooking is very simple:
- dry washed irga berries and mashed with a pestle;
- squeeze the juice out of the puree using a juicer or manually using gauze;
- dilute with currant or cherry juice, put on fire, and heat without boiling. Roll the juice into jars hot.
Drink juice before meals, 50-100 ml. The juice of the more sour berries is diluted because of the strong sweetness of the irga.
More recipes from irga berry
A delicious infusion of irga berries is obtained, with a beautiful dark blue tint. It is prepared with vodka according to the recipe:
- chop the fruits in mashed potatoes with a pestle, fill a glass jar to ¾ and fill with vodka so that 4 cm remains from the neck;
- leave to infuse for 3 days in a cool and dark place;
- strain the tincture well, removing the remaining berries.
Keep the drink in the cold, and take it three times a day before meals, 1 tablespoon each.
People prepare tea from fresh and dry leaves by pouring boiling water over them. Insist for 20 minutes and drink with a spoon full of honey. Tea from irga flowers is also great. It is good to drink this tea in the evening. It soothes and promotes healthy sleep.
A decoction of the bark is good for external and internal use. Decoction compresses help heal wounds and burns. You can do it yourself:
- using a coffee grinder, grind the bark;
- pour 2 tablespoons with 2 cups of boiling water;
- cook over low heat for 20 minutes, cool, and strain;
- pour in a glass of boiled cool water.
It would help if you drank the broth 3-5 times a day for half a glass. For external use, do not dilute the broth with water.
The fruits retain their beneficial properties and taste for a very long time so that you may stock up irga for the winter. The irga berries need to be stored at room temperature for up to 3 days.
Drying irga should be performed in a warm room with good ventilation. The fruits should be laid out on a grid. Then, you can use special dryers or an oven, stirring the berries regularly. The temperature should not exceed 60 degrees.
After defrosting, frozen berries become even sweeter and do not lose their shape. Irga is frozen without adding syrup and sugar. It is important to carefully sort the fruits, wash and dry them on a towel. The berries are scattered in one layer on a baking sheet or cardboard tray, placed in the freezer. As a result, you may store the frozen fruits in tightly tied sachets.
How to plant and grow the irga berry
Irga is an unpretentious plant that can withstand temperatures up to 40-50 degrees below zero. During the flowering period, the plant can withstand spring frosts down to -7 degrees. It sometimes lives up to 70 years and is rightfully considered a long-liver. Over the years, the shrub turns into a tree.
Irga can be planted anywhere, and it grows well both in the sun and in the shade, it is not afraid of drought and wind. The plant takes root in any soil, except for marshy areas. The yield and health of the irga depend on the fertility of the soil. Landing is carried out in the following sequence:
- clear the place of weeds and dig up;
- dig a hole, mix the earth from it with compost and sand in a 3: 1: 1 ratio;
- add humus, phosphate, and potassium fertilizer to the bottom of the hole;
- sprinkle the seedling with a mixture of earth, sand, and compost, pour abundantly with water;
- when the moisture is completely absorbed, add earth and level the hole to the surface. Mulch the soil on top;
- trim the seedling so that there are no more than 4 buds on each shoot.
Seedlings for planting should be 1-2 years old. If you plant several bushes, it is preferable to do it in a checkerboard pattern; the distance between the seedlings should be at least 1.5 meters.
The shrub is unpretentious and does not require special attention, but it is certainly worth spending a little time on irga. The plant will thank you for a good harvest and healthy growth.
It is necessary to:
- Water irga regularly, but in reasonable amounts. The root system of irga is very developed. Therefore, you should pay special attention to watering in drought;
- water with a sprayer, at the same time, cleaning the leaves from dust;
- trim as needed for visual appeal;
- perform weeding
After 5 years of life, fertilize the plant, once a year digging up the trunk circle with fertilizers.
- humus bucket
- 200 g of potash fertilizers without chlorine
- 300 g superphosphate
It is useful to feed the plant with liquid organic matter in the spring and until mid-summer—suitable chicken manure, which is diluted in water in a ratio of 1 to 10. One bush requires 5 liters of such a solution.
It would help if you fed the bush with liquid fertilizers in the evening, after watering the plant first. After dry fertilization with digging, you must water the bush.
Here’s a video on how to pick the best irga berries: