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Sorbus aucuparia - Rowan or 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.

SORBUS AUCUPARIA USES

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)

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

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