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Sorbus aucuparia

  • Name also: Mountain Ash, European Rowan, European Mountain-ash
  • Family: Rose Family – Rosaceae
  • Growing form and height: Tree. 4–10 m (13–33 ft.).
  • Flower: Regular (actinomorphic), small, strong-smelling. Calyx-lobes five, triangular, tipped. Petals white, with rounded tips. Carpels three, fused. Stamens twenty. Inflorescence a dense compound cyme.
  • Leaves: Alternate. Stalked, odd-pinnate. Leaflets thirteen to seventeen, elliptic to narrowly ovate, margins saw-like, almost hairless above, hairy beneath. Autumn colour purplish-red.
  • Buds: Narrowly egg-shaped, dark brown. Scales big, clearly grey-haired.
  • Fruit: Red to orange, 3–6-seeded berry (pome).
  • Habitat: Dryish or damp coniferous and mixed forests, broadleaf woods, forest margins, lush spruce swamps, shores, rocky hillsides, wooded meadows. Also an ornamental.
  • Flowering time: June–July.

There are more than 90 Sorbus species, in Europe alone more than 50. Rowan, also known as mountain ash, is the county flower of North Savo, and a sacred tree of ancient Finns. It grows almost anywhere, but stays low on dry and poor soils. On open sites it becomes a broad-crowned tree with several trunks, but when growing within a forest it is often over-grown by other trees.

Rowan is a typical insect-pollinated species. Its strong-smelling flowers lure plenty of pollinators, such as flies, butterflies, beetles, and bees. When berries are ripe, they attract birds like waxwings which eat berries, and disperse the seeds.

In forest management rowan has been underrated. However, the wood is hard and elastic, beautifully yellowish-brown, and readily polished.

Rowan is a variable species. For instance, varieties with drooping branches or yellow and sweet berries are known. In Lapland the less hairy subspecies glabrata is more common. The sourness of the berries varies greatly between individuals. Berries can be used for making jelly, or they can be preserved dry.

Other species from the same family
Flowers from the same family

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