Rowan (Sorbus aucuparia)

Sorbus aucuparia also known as Mountain Ash as it grows at fairly high altitudes and the leaves look similar to those of the Ash Fraxinus excelsior but they are not related. Native to this country and found around the cool temperate parts of the northern hemisphere.

In tree terms its small growing to 15m or so with a 4-8 m spread. It likes sun to dappled shade with its roots in loam or sand providing it is acid to neutral. Rowan’s are deciduous with thin toothed leaves arranged in pairs off a central stalk. Shallow domes of white flowers come out in the spring and orangey red berries in late summer into the autumn.

Rowan tree with berries

Due to the small size ornamental varieties make a good garden tree giving flowers in the spring, berries late summer early autumn followed by good autumn leaf colour. The berries can be used to make jelly and is a good source of vitamin C but they are primarily for the birds and mice to fatten on before winter. The open growth habit lends itself to planting with a rambling rose or honeysuckle for added interest.

Rowans are reputed to have mystical qualities and one growing close to your home protects it from evil spirits!

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