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Sorbus aucuparia, Mountain Ash, Rowan, Caorthann, quicken-tree


Sorbus aucuparia, commonly called rowan and mountain-ash, is a species of deciduous tree or shrub in the rose family. It is a highly variable species, and botanists have used different definitions of the species to include or exclude trees native to certain areas. A recent definition includes trees native to most of Europe and parts of Asia, as well as northern Africa. The range extends from Madeira and Iceland to Russia and northern China. Unlike many plants with similar distributions, it is not native to Japan.

Sorbus aucuparia has a slender trunk with smooth bark, a loose and roundish crown, and its leaves are pinnate in pairs of leaflets on a central vein with a terminal leaflet. It blossoms from May to June in dense corymbs of small yellowish white flowers and develops small red berries as fruit that ripen from August to October and are eaten by many bird species, especially the thrush.

Fruit and foliage of Sorbus aucuparia have been used by humans as a folk medicine, and as fodder for livestock. Its tough and flexible wood has traditionally been used for woodworking. It is planted to fortify soil in mountain regions or as an ornamental tree.

The Rowan Tree and its Ogham Meanings


The rowan has long been honored for its balance of beauty and hardiness.
When we silence ourselves long enough to listen to the rowan speak, we hear her message: "look deeper, see through the object before your eyes and you will encounter visions into the worlds beyond the one you physically know."

  • Attractive graceful garden or street tree.
  • Belongs to the Rosaceae Rose family.
  • Also known as the Roantree in some parts of Ireland.
  • Urban street tree or will grow high up in the mountains.
  • Will grow in any soil type rarely higher than 13.5m depending on site where it grows. Frost resistant.
  • Deciduous tree, meaning it loses its leaves in wintertime. It has leaves that are similar to an ash leaflet pinnate, but more jagged or fern-like around the edges.
  • The creamy flowers are grown in clusters flower in May and develop into berries by August.
  • Scarlet to orange berries from August onwards. Leaves give a great blaze of colour in the Autumn time.
  • Thrush birds love the berries on this tree and will guard it all winter for their food.
  • Berries are not poisonous, but are very bitter if eaten.
  • This tree was associated with the Druids and is believed to have healing powers. When Diarmuid and Grainne where hiding from Fionn and the Fianna, they climbed up a Rowan tree and disappeared to the otherworld.
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