Table of Contents

Rowan: Plant profile

Common names

Rowan, mountain ash

Botanical name

Sorbus aucuparia

Plant family

Rosaceae (Rose)

Geographical distribution

Native to most of Europe, part of Asia and northern Africa. Common throughout the UK and Ireland.

Where to find Rowan

Urban areas, forest edges and rocky hills.

When to find Rowan

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.

Culinary uses and recipes with Rowan

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.

Medicinal properties of Rowan

Rowan berries are an astringent, a laxative and a good source of vitamins C and A.

Safe foraging

They must always be cooked as raw berries will cause stomach upsets, but once cooked are perfectly fine.


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Alvaro Docio

Alvaro Docio

I am the person behind British Local Food. I want to inspire you to go outdoors, familiarise with your local plants and make the best of their culinary and medicinal properties.

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