Common name: Rowan, mountain ash
Botanical name: Sorbus aucuparia
Family: Rosaceae (Rose)
Worldwide distribution: Native to most of Europe, part of Asia and northern Africa.
Local distribution: Common throughout the UK and Ireland.
Habitat: Urban areas, forest edges and rocky hills.
Season: Flowers late spring to early summer and berries early to mid-autumn.
Our native rowan trees play an important role in popular folklore and superstition, much related to witchcraft. It’s said crosses made of rowan wood were tied with a red thread on May eve to be protected against witches.
This small deciduous tree is generally growing singly in forest edges and rocky hills, sometimes at higher elevations than any other native tree. The tree is also an appreciated ornamental and planted in urban areas.
Rowan trees bear clusters of vivid red berries in abundance, quite easy to spot from a distance. These berries are naturally bitter, but cooking them with sugar tames the flavour
They are traditionally paired with crab apples and used to make jelly to accompany meats and cheese.
Rowan berries are an astringent, a laxative and a good source of vitamins C and A.
They must always be cooked as raw berries will cause stomach upsets, but once cooked are perfectly fine.