Mountain Ash or Rowan Sorbas aucuparia L.


The mountain ash grows in western and central Europe from lowland to high mountain elevations up to the tree line, and, in northern Europe, even beyond the Arctic Circle. It is resistant to frost, thrives on poorer soils and is important as a pioneer tree which, because it is distributed by birds, quickly covers burned and logged areas. It reaches a height of only 15 to 20 metres. The bark is smooth and grey-brown, the buds are elongate, dark brown with greyish hairs. The white flowers appear in May, developing by autumn into bright red berries the size of a pea, which are a great favourite of birds. The tree’s Latin name aucuparia — avis capere indicates that the berries were used by bird-catchers to bait their traps. The mountain ash also has a cultivated variety with larger, sweet fruit, S. a. edulius (syn. Dulcis), grown in northern or mountainous regions for their fruit, which is used to make compotes, jams and spirituous drinks. The mountain ash, and its several cultivated varieties, is also popular for planting alongside roads as an ornamental for its spring flowers and bright autumn coloration. The wood has little durability.

Leaves: Alternate, odd-pinnate, 10—25 cm long, with usually 6—7 pairs of elliptical, sharply serrate leaflets 3—5 cm long.

Flowers: Creamy white in dense clusters.

Fruit: Bright red berries with drop-like, 11-mm-long seeds.

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