Rowan Sorbus 'Leonard Messel'

👤 Non-toxic to humans
🐾 Non-toxic to pets
🌸 Blooming
🍪 Not edible
‍🌱 Easy-care
mountain ash 'Leonard Messel'


Sorbus 'Leonard Messel', commonly known as the Mountain Ash or Rowan, is a plant admired for its decorative features. This plant typically displays pinnate leaves, which are composed of several leaflets arranged on either side of a common stalk. The leaflets are elongated with finely serrated edges, contributing to an overall feathery and airy foliage texture. These leaves often emerge with a silvery or frosty appearance in spring before turning into a deep, rich green as the season progresses. In the fall, Mountain Ash foliage transforms yet again, showcasing a spectacular range of colors from bright orange to red and sometimes purplish-red hues that add to the plant's ornamental value. The flowers of Sorbus 'Leonard Messel' are one of its standout features, appearing as clusters of small, delicate blossoms. These flowers are usually white or pale pink, offering a subtle but attractive contrast against the green backdrop of the leaves. The floral clusters can be dense and quite eye-catching when the plant is in full bloom, attracting pollinators such as bees and butterflies. After flowering, the Mountain Ash produces clusters of small, berry-like fruits. The fruits typically have a bright red or orange color when ripe, providing additional visual interest and a source of food for wildlife, especially birds that are attracted to the colorful berries. Beyond its visual allure, the plant also provides a lovely architectural presence in the garden with its overall graceful habit and the seasonal changes it undergoes.

Plant Info
Common Problems

About this plant

  • memoNames

    • Synonyms

      Leonard Messel Rowan, Leonard Messel Mountain Ash.

    • Common names

      Sorbus 'Leonard Messel'

  • skullToxicity

    • To humans

      The Rowan, specifically the 'Leonard Messel' variety, generally has little to no toxicity to humans. Most parts of this plant are not considered poisonous when touched or ingested in small quantities. However, the seeds contained within the berries have substances that can be potentially harmful if consumed in large amounts, as they contain a compound similar to amygdalin, which can release cyanide when digested. Symptoms of poisoning could include nausea, vomiting, stomach cramps, headache, and in severe cases, difficulty breathing, increased heart rate, convulsions, and potentially death from cyanide poisoning. It is uncommon for humans to eat enough of the berries to cause serious harm, but caution should still be exercised, especially with children who might be tempted to eat the berries.

    • To pets

      The Rowan, with the 'Leonard Messel' cultivar included, is not highly toxic to pets, but it should still be considered with caution. The berries contain seeds that have the potential to release cyanide when digested, much like in humans. If a pet ingests a large number of seeds, they could suffer from cyanide poisoning. The symptoms of poisoning in pets might include vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, difficulty breathing, and lethargy. In severe cases, seizures, coma, and even death could occur. It's more likely for pets to consume a dangerous quantity than humans, so it's important to keep an eye on pets around these plants and discourage them from ingesting the berries.

  • infoCharacteristics

    • Life cycle


    • Foliage type


    • Color of leaves


    • Flower color


    • Height

      20 feet (6 meters)

    • Spread

      15 feet (4.5 meters)

    • Plant type


    • Hardiness zones


    • Native area



  • money-bagGeneral Benefits

    • Ornamental Appeal: Produces attractive pinkish-white flowers in the spring which add visual interest to landscapes.
    • Wildlife Attraction: The berries produced are a source of food for birds, enticing them into the garden.
    • Seasonal Interest: Offers year-round interest with flowers in spring, lush leaves in summer, fruit in autumn, and bark texture in winter.
    • Compact Size: Suitable for small gardens due to its relatively small stature.
    • Drought Tolerance: Once established, it has a good level of tolerance to short periods of dry weather.
    • Low Maintenance: Requires minimal pruning and care once established, making it easy to manage for most gardeners.

  • medicalMedical Properties

    This plant is not used for medical purposes.

  • windAir-purifying Qualities

    This plant is not specifically known for air purifying qualities.

  • leavesOther Uses

    • The wood of the Rowan tree can be used for carving or turning on a lathe due to its density and fine grain, making it useful for creating small wooden objects like tool handles.
    • Rowan berries are sometimes used for making homemade wine or jams, providing a unique tart flavor that can be an interesting addition to recipes.
    • The tree's durable wood is suitable for crafting musical instruments such as whistles, flutes, or pipes, due to its acoustic properties.
    • In some traditional practices, the Rowan tree is considered a protective symbol, and branches or twigs might be placed above doorways to ward off evil.
    • Rowan berries can be used as a natural dye source, producing shades of green or grey when mordanted appropriately and applied to yarn or fabric.
    • The tree's blossoms can serve as a source of nectar for bees, leading to the production of unique honey varieties.
    • Fallen leaves of the Rowan tree can be collected and added to compost heaps, where they contribute to the nutrient content of the resulting compost.
    • Rowan wood can be used in the smoking of food, imparting a subtle fruity flavor to meats and cheeses.
    • During winter, the persistent berries provide a valuable food source for birds, especially benefiting garden biodiversity.
    • In landscaping, the Rowan tree can act as a natural screen or windbreak when planted in rows or hedges, due to its dense foliage.

Interesting Facts

  • bedFeng Shui

    The Rowan tree is not used in Feng Shui practice.

  • aquariusZodiac Sign Compitability

    The Rowan tree is not used in astrology practice.

  • spiralPlant Symbolism

    • Protection: The Sorbus genus, commonly known as Rowan or Mountain Ash, includes the 'Leonard Messel' cultivar. The Rowan tree has been historically associated with protection and warding off evil spirits, a symbolism that could extend to this cultivar.
    • Wisdom: Rowan trees are often connected to wisdom and knowledge, perhaps in part due to their long lifespan and the ancient belief in their protective powers.
    • Survival: With its ability to thrive in harsh conditions, the Rowan is often seen as a symbol of survival, resilience, and endurance.

Every 1-2 weeks
2500 - 10000 Lux
Every 2-3 years
Early spring
As needed
  • water dropWater

    The Rowan tree should be watered thoroughly until the soil is moist at a depth of a few inches, typically needing about 1 to 1.5 gallons of water per week during its growing season, especially if there isn't sufficient rain. In the absence of rain, water the tree once a week; however, in periods of drought or extreme heat, increase watering frequency to twice a week. Reduce watering in the fall and winter when the tree is dormant. Always check the soil moisture level before watering to avoid over-saturation, as Rowan trees do not like to be waterlogged.

  • sunLight

    The Rowan tree thrives best in full sun to partial shade. It should be planted in a location where it will receive at least six hours of sunlight per day to promote healthy growth and abundant flowering. However, in regions with very hot summers, some afternoon shade can help protect the tree from excessive heat stress.

  • thermometerTemperature

    Rowan trees are hardy and can tolerate a wide range of temperatures, usually from about -20°F to 100°F. They prefer cooler climates and their ideal growing temperature range is between 60°F and 70°F. Protect them from extreme cold by ensuring they are well mulched before winter sets in.

  • scissorsPruning

    Prune the Rowan tree to remove any dead or broken branches, to shape the tree, or to remove diseased wood. The best time to prune is during the dormant season, in late fall or early winter. Depending on the tree's growth, light pruning can be done every year, with more extensive pruning every 2 to 3 years to maintain the tree's structure and health.

  • broomCleaning

    As needed

  • bambooSoil

    The Mountain Ash 'Leonard Messel' prefers a well-draining soil rich in organic matter with a slightly acidic to neutral pH, typically ranging from 6.0 to 7.0. A good soil mixture can be composed of loamy garden soil, compost, and peat moss to ensure proper drainage and fertility.

  • plantRepotting

    Mountain Ash 'Leonard Messel' trees, being large landscape plants, do not require frequent repotting. They are normally planted in the ground where they can grow without the need for repotting.

  • water dropsHumidity & Misting

    Mountain Ash 'Leonard Messel' tolerates a wide range of humidity levels and does not require any special humidity considerations when grown outdoors in its preferred environment.

  • pinSuitable locations

    • Indoor

      Not ideal for indoor growing due to size.

    • Outdoor

      Plant in well-draining soil, full sun to partial shade.

    • Hardiness zone

      5-8 USDA

  • circleLife cycle

    The Sorbus 'Leonard Messel', more commonly known as the 'Leonard Messel' rowan or mountain ash, begins its life cycle when a seed germinates, typically requiring stratification—a period of cold to break dormancy. After germination, the seedling stage is characterized by the sprouting of primary leaves and establishment of a root system. As the plant enters the vegetative stage, it develops a woody stem and a more complex root structure, along with foliage that increases in density and size. The maturation phase follows, where the plant reaches full size and begins to flower, producing clusters of pinkish-white blooms that are attractive to pollinators. After pollination, it progresses to the reproductive stage, where flowers develop into clusters of berry-like fruits called pomes, which can be dispersed by birds and other animals. The plant's life cycle concludes with senescence, when the rowan ages and its vital processes slow, eventually leading to the plant's death.

  • sproutPropogation

    • Propogation time

      Early spring

    • Propogation: The Sorbus 'Leonard Messel', commonly known as the 'Leonard Messel' rowan or mountain ash, is typically propagated by seed or by grafting. However, the most popular method for cultivars such as 'Leonard Messel' is grafting, which ensures that the new plants are true to the parent's form and characteristics. In grafting, a scion from the 'Leonard Messel' is typically grafted onto a rootstock of a different but related species or variety that offers vigor and adaptability to various soil conditions. This is usually done in late winter or early spring when the plant is dormant. The scion, which is a piece of the previous season's growth about 2 to 4 inches long (5 to 10 centimeters), is cut at an angle to match a similar cut on the rootstock. The two pieces are then joined together and securely bound, and the graft union is coated with grafting wax to prevent drying out. The grafted plant is then ideally grown under favorable conditions until the graft union is fully healed and the young tree can be planted out in its permanent location.