Rowan Trees – Sorbus Aucuparia


Sorbus aucuparia, commonly known as the Rowan tree or the Mountain Ash, is a popular deciduous tree native to much of Europe, including the UK. The creamy white flowers and striking red berries makes the Rowan a great ornamental tree.


Sorbus aucuparia, commonly known as the Rowan tree or the Mountain Ash, is a popular deciduous tree native to much of Europe, including the UK. Not to be confused with the true ash trees (genus Fraxinus), the Rowan tree stands apart due to its distinct features and the folklore surrounding it.

Size – Typically, the Rowan tree grows to a height of 10-20 metres and has a spread of about 8-15 metres. It displays an attractive, rounded crown adorned with pinnate leaves, each having up to 14 leaflets that provide a feathery, elegant appearance. The leaves open a fresh green colour in the spring, darken over summer and turn to glorious shades of orange and red before falling in autumn.

Features – One of the most enchanting features of the Rowan tree is its creamy white flowers that bloom in clusters in late spring. These flowers are followed by a profusion of striking, glossy red berries in the late summer and early autumn. The berries, while inedible raw due to their bitterness, can be cooked to make jellies, jams, and even a traditional liqueur in some countries. Compared to other trees found in England, the Rowan tree distinguishes itself with its bright red berries and feathery foliage. The tree’s small size also makes it a more feasible option for small gardens compared to many native British trees.

Maturity – The Rowan tree has a relatively fast growth rate and typically reaches maturity within 20-30 years. The average lifespan of the tree is about 100 years, although it can occasionally live up to 200 years in favourable conditions.

Reproduction – Like other Sorbus species, the Rowan tree is hermaphroditic, meaning each flower contains both male and female reproductive parts. The flowers are pollinated by insects, primarily bees, and this cross-pollination leads to the formation of the characteristic berries.

Design – From a garden design perspective, the Rowan tree is incredibly versatile. Its compact size, coupled with its distinct spring blossoms, vibrant autumn colours, and winter berries, make it an excellent choice for year-round interest. It can be used as a standalone feature, in a mixed border, or even as part of a wildlife-friendly hedge.

Benefits For Nature – In terms of wildlife benefits, the Rowan tree is invaluable. Its flowers provide a rich source of nectar and pollen for bees and other pollinators, while the berries are a favourite of many birds, including thrushes and waxwings. The leaves also host a variety of caterpillars, providing a food source for them and the birds that feed on them.

Facts – An interesting fact about the Rowan tree is its rich folklore. It’s often called the ‘witch tree’ as it was traditionally believed to ward off witches and evil spirits. Even today, it’s not uncommon to find a Rowan tree planted near houses for this symbolic protection.

Conclusion, Sorbus aucuparia, the Rowan tree, is a charming, resilient, and ecologically beneficial tree that offers a host of features to delight the senses. Its compact size, vibrant display of flowers and berries, and the fascinating folklore surrounding it, make it an excellent addition to a British garden.


Full Standard, Boxhead, Feathered, Multi Stem, Pleached, Half Standard Pleached, Umbrella, Half Standard, Espalier, Mini Standard, Ball, Cone, Spiral, Cube, Cloud Form, Cube Spiral, Cube Multiball, Cube Ball Cone, Pom-pom, Lollipop, Archway, Twisted Stem, Triple Lollipop, Multiball 2, Multiball 3, Dome, Cylinder, Pyramid, Cylindrical Dome, Twisted Stem, Unique, Bonsai, Instant Hedge, Instant Screen, Hedging Plants, Young Tree

Root Type

Pot Grown, Rootball, Bare Root


15-30cm, 30-50cm, 50-70cm, 70-90cm, 90-110cm, 110-130cm, 130-150cm, 150-170cm, 170-200cm, 200-230cm, 230-250cm, 250-270cm, 270-300cm, 300-350cm, 350-400cm, 400-450cm, 450-500cm, 500-600cm, 600-700cm, 700-800cm, 10-20cm, 20-30cm, 30-40cm, 40-50cm, 50-60cm, 60-70cm, 70-80cm, 80-90cm, 90-100cm, 100-110cm, 110-120cm, 120-130cm, 130-140cm, 140-150cm

Stem Girth - Height

4-6cm (H 1.7 – 2.0m), 6-8cm (H 2.0 – 2.3m), 8-10cm (H 2.3 – 2.5m), 10-12cm (H 2.5 – 3.0m), 12-14cm (H 2.7 – 3.2m), 14-16cm (H 3.0 – 4.0m), 16-18cm (H 3.5 – 4.5m), 18-20cm (H 4.0 – 5.0m), 20-25cm (H 4.5 – 5.5m), 25-30cm (H 5.0 – 6.0m), 30-35cm (H 5.5 – 6.5m), 35-40cm (H 6.0 – 7.0m), 40-45cm (H 6.5 – 7.5m), 45-50cm (H 7.0 – 8.0m), 50-60cm (H 7.0 – 9.0m), 60-70cm (H 7.0 – 10m), 70-80cm (H 7.5 – 11m), 80-90cm (H 7.5 – 12m), 90-100cm (H 7.5 – 13m), 100-120cm (H 8.0 – 15m), H 0.1 – 0.3m, H 0.3 – 0.5m, H 0.5 – 0.7m, H 0.7 – 0.9m, H 0.9 – 1.1m, H 1.1 – 1.3m, H 1.3 – 1.5m, H 1.5 – 2.0m, H 2.0 – 2.3m, H 2.3 – 2.5m, H 2.5 – 3.0m, H 3.0 – 3.5m, H 3.5 – 4.0m, H 4.0 – 4.5m, H 4.5 – 5.0m, H 5.0 – 6.0m, H 6.0 – 7.0m, H 7.0 – 8.0m, H 8.0 – 9.0m, H 9.0 – 10m, H 10 – 12m, H 12 – 14m, H 14 – 16m

Foliage Type




Water Requirement

Moderate Watering

Growth Height

Medium Growing

Growth Speed

Moderate Growth

Costal Growing








Colourful Foliage?


Hard Wood Cutbacks?





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