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(Rowan / Mountain Ash )

Sorbus aucuparia, more commonly known as Mountain Ash or Rowan is a native plant, widespread throughout the British Isles and most of Europe. It is a small - medium sized deciduous tree which provides interest across three seasons.

The name Mountain Ash is misleading as it is not actually related to our common Ash, it is only that the leaves are similar in appearance. The ‘Mountain’ part come from its ability to withstand cold, harsh conditions and altitude. It has been known to grow at 1,000m in Britain and 2,000m in France though at the highest altitudes it is little more than a sapling or small bush.

The leaves are made up of several small leaflets - serrated along the edges with a pointed tip - in opposite pairs along a stem with a single leaflet at the tip. After the leaves have emerged the flowers appear, usually in May or early June. Single, creamy white flowers are grouped together to form dense clusters or corymbs which on mature specimens can be up to 250 individual flowers. Pollinating insects are attracted by their sweet scent.

The flowers, once pollinated, grow into berries and ripen in autumn to red, orange, yellow, pink depending on the variety. They are a favourite food for birds, making it a great tree for wildlife. The foliage also turns into fiery reds and oranges and combined with the berries makes a beautiful autumn show of colour.

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Plant Profile

Name: Sorbus aucuparia

Common Name: Rowan or Mountain Ash

Family: Rosaceae

Height: approx. 10 - 15 metres

Demands: Ideal in a light, acid soil but tolerant of a range of conditions.

Flowers: Individual, white flowers form a larger cluster

Foliage: Serrated leaflets in pairs along a stem with a single leaflet at the tip. Brilliant colours in Autumn

Fruit: Small green berries ripening in Autumn

Several varieties are available from Deepdale as a standard or multistem.

Sorbus aucuparia info sheet


Wood - has been used to make tool handles, cart wheels, walking sticks and spindles.

Berries - Still used to make Rowan jelly, an accompaniment to game dishes. In the Highlands, they are used to make a spirit and in Ireland were used to flavour mead. Also used to prevent scurvy as high in Vitamin C.

Bark - Used to tan leather or together with the berries to dye cloth.

Leaves - A winter feed for cattle (though also rumoured to have been eaten during the Irish famine)

Sorbus aucuparia Edulis

Sorbus aucuparia Edulis 25-30cm girth

Sorbus aucuparia Sheerwater Seedling

Sorbus aucuparia Sheerwater Seedling 20-25cm girth

Sorbus aucuparia leaf

Sorbus aucuparia leaf


Berries late summer / autumn

Smooth bark

Smooth bark

Sorbus aucuparia, rowan

Sorbus aucuparia 12-14-16cm girth

Sorbus auc. Joseph Rock

Sorbus auc. Joseph Rock in autumn

Sorbus aucuparia multistems

Sorbus aucuparia multistems

Sorbus aucuparia Vilmorinii

Sorbus aucuparia Vilmorinii

Sorbus aucuparia, mountain ash

Sorbus aucuparia 18-20-25cm girth

Sorbus aucuparia Edulis

Sorbus aucuparia Edulis


The Rowan has long been associated with mythology and witchcraft. The earliest myth is of The Greek goddess of youth, Hebe, who had a magical chalice used to feed nectar and ambrosia to the gods. When she lost this chalice to the demons, the gods sent and eagle to retrieve it. In the fight which followed, the eagle lost some feathers and droplets of blood. When these reached the earth, they turned into Rowan trees. The leaves are representative of the feathers and the red berries of the blood.

In Norse mythology, it is believed that when Thor was being swept away by a rapid river, a Rowan bent over allowing him to grab hold and climb to safety.

In Britain, red is considered to be the best colour for protection against enchantment. The berries and the red leaves in Autumn enhance the protective capabilities of Sorbus aucuparia. Historically, it has been hung in houses to prevent fire, planted in churchyards to keep the dead in their graves and leaves tied around a cows neck or over barn doors to prevent harm.



Deepdale Trees Ltd.,
Tithe Farm, Hatley Road,
Potton, Sandy,
Beds. SG19 2DX.

  01767 26 26 36


Deepdale Trees

Grower of the UK's finest and widest selection of semi mature trees and shrubs.
From our convenient location in the heart of England, we are able to make year round deliveries Europe wide, selecting from over 140 acres of UK production. We are also able to source plants on request through our extensive supply network. Fully plant-passported and therefore able to supply trees throughout the UK and Europe.

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Standard trees, semi-mature trees, multi-stemmed, feathered, topiary and hedging.