Rowan Sorbus aucuparia

☠ Toxic to humans
🐾 Toxic to pets
🌸 Blooming
🍪 Edible
‍🌱 Easy-care


Commonly known as the rowan or the mountain ash, this plant is characterized by its pinnate leaves that are generally composed of a series of leaflets arranged in pairs along a central stem, culminating in a terminal leaflet. Each leaflet is typically elongated, with a serrated or toothed edge, giving the foliage a fine, feathery appearance. The plant is well-regarded for its clusters of small, white flowers which bloom in dense corymbs, creating a frothy effect in the late spring to early summer. These flowers, in turn, give rise to vibrant red or orange berries that are quite conspicuous against the foliage, maturing in the autumn. The berries are a notable feature, often remaining on the plant long into the winter, providing a splash of color during the colder months and serving as a valuable food source for birds. The bark of the plant is smooth and gray in younger specimens, becoming more rough and scaly with age. The twigs are slender and can have a downy texture when young, hardening as they mature. In autumn, the foliage of the rowan turns into shades of fiery red or auburn, making it an attractive ornamental specimen for its seasonal interest. Overall, the plant has a graceful and elegant stature, with a well-distributed canopy that adds to its ornamental value.

Plant Info
Common Problems

About this plant

  • memoNames

    • Family


    • Synonyms

      Rowan, Mountain Ash, European Mountain Ash, Quickbeam, Witch Wood, Witch Beam, Sorb Apple, Dogberry, Delight Of The Eye, Queen Of The Mountains.

    • Common names

      Pyrus aucuparia, Sorbus aucuparia var. dulcis, Sorbus aucuparia var. maderensis, Sorbus aucuparia var. moravica, Sorbus aucuparia var. glabrata, Sorbus aucuparia subsp. glabrata, Sorbus glabrata, Sorbus intermedia, Sorbus dacica.

  • skullToxicity

    • To humans

      The most common name for Sorbus aucuparia is the Rowan or Mountain Ash. This plant contains a compound known as parasorbic acid, particularly in the seeds, which can be toxic when consumed in large quantities. If ingested, the raw berries can cause indigestion or stomach upset due to this compound. However, the toxic elements can be neutralized through cooking, making the berries safe to eat in cooked preparations. It is generally advised to avoid eating the raw berries or seeds of the Rowan to prevent any risk of poisoning, which may result in symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, and diarrhea.

    • To pets

      For pets, the Rowan or Mountain Ash can also be considered toxic primarily due to the seeds containing parasorbic acid. If pets consume the berries, especially in significant amounts, they may experience symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal discomfort. It is essential to prevent pets from ingesting the berries, as the toxic effect may be more pronounced in smaller animals, and they can suffer more severe digestive upset or potential poisoning. It's always best to keep pets away from the plant to avoid any adverse health consequences.

  • infoCharacteristics

    • Life cycle


    • Foliage type


    • Color of leaves


    • Flower color


    • Height

      49 feet (15 meters)

    • Spread

      26 feet (8 meters)

    • Plant type


    • Hardiness zones


    • Native area



  • money-bagGeneral Benefits

    • Landscape Ornamentation: The European Mountain Ash, also known as Rowan, is often used in landscape design for its decorative features, such as its striking clusters of bright red berries and vibrant autumn foliage.
    • Habitat for Wildlife: The Rowan tree provides food and shelter to various species of birds and small mammals, with its berries being a particular favorite among many bird species.
    • Erosion Control: The deep root system of Sorbus aucuparia can help stabilize soil and prevent erosion, making it useful for planting in areas vulnerable to soil loss.
    • Drought Resistance: Once established, Rowan trees are relatively drought-tolerant, requiring minimal watering and maintenance, which is beneficial in regions with less rainfall.
    • Frost Tolerance: Rowan trees are hardy and can tolerate cold climates, making them suitable for planting in many temperate regions.
    • Cultural and Folklore Significance: The Rowan tree has a rich history and cultural significance in many folklore traditions, often associated with protection and good fortune.
    • Biodiversity Support: By providing a natural source of food and habitat, Rowan trees contribute to the support and enhancement of local biodiversity.

  • medicalMedical Properties

    • Antioxidant: Sorbus aucuparia contains compounds with antioxidant properties which can help in the protection against oxidative stress.
    • Diuretic: The plant has been traditionally used as a diuretic, aiding in the removal of excess water from the body.
    • Astringent: Extracts from the plant are known for their astringent effects, which can be used for toning the skin and mucous membranes.
    • Vitamin C source: Sorbus aucuparia berries are high in vitamin C, which is essential for a healthy immune system.

  • windAir-purifying Qualities

    This plant is not specifically known for air purifying qualities.

  • leavesOther Uses

    • The berries of the rowan tree can be used to make a jelly that accompanies meats, giving a sharp, tart flavor that complements rich and gamey flavors.
    • In some cultures, the wood of the rowan tree is used to make walking sticks or tool handles due to its hardness and durability.
    • The rowan tree's wood is sometimes used in the crafting of musical instruments, especially for parts like the chanter of bagpipes, because of its fine grain and stability.
    • Rowan berries have been traditionally used for dyeing fabrics, producing shades of green or orange, depending on the mordant used.
    • The rowan tree is often planted in gardens and parks as an ornamental species, as it is attractive throughout the year, with flowers in spring and berries in autumn.
    • Its dense root system prevents soil erosion, making the rowan tree useful for planting in areas prone to land degradation.
    • Rowan wood is valued in woodturning for creating beautiful bowls, plates, and other decorative objects due to its close-grained texture.
    • The berries are fermented to produce rowan berry wine, which is a traditional homemade wine in some countries.
    • In folklore, the rowan tree is often considered a protective symbol and is planted near homes to ward off evil spirits.
    • The bark of the rowan tree is sometimes used in tanning leather, as it contains tannins that help in the process.

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 Rowan tree, also known as Sorbus aucuparia, has often been planted near homes and in gardens to ward off evil spirits and provide protection, symbolizing safeguarding and guardianship.
    • Wisdom: Rowan is associated with wisdom and knowledge, perhaps because of its connection to ancient lore and druidic beliefs where it was respected as a tree of great knowledge.
    • Magic: With its links to enchantment and mysticism, the Rowan tree is often connected with magic. Druids are said to have used the berries to increase their psychic powers, and the Rowan is often found in tales of sorcery and popular folklore.
    • Life and Vitality: The vibrant red berries and the tree's ability to thrive in adverse conditions symbolize life and vitality, representing the force of life and the perseverance to survive and prosper.
    • Connection and Guidance: As a tree with mythological significance, Rowan is seen as a guide connecting the earth to the spiritual realm, representing the journey and communication between different planes of existence.

Every 2-3 weeks
2500 - 10000 Lux
Not applicable
Late winter
As needed
  • water dropWater

    Rowan trees prefer soil that remains evenly moist, but they are relatively drought-tolerant once established. During the growing season, water young trees once a week with about 2 gallons per square yard if there has been no significant rainfall. Mature trees usually do not require routine watering unless there is extreme drought. Adjust watering frequency based on weather conditions, with less frequent watering during cool or rainy periods and more during heatwaves. Ensure the water penetrates the soil deeply to encourage root growth.

  • sunLight

    Rowan trees thrive in full sun to partial shade conditions. They should be planted in a location where they can receive at least six hours of direct sunlight daily. These trees perform well in a variety of lighting conditions but their flowering and fruiting are best in sunnier spots.

  • thermometerTemperature

    Rowan trees are hardy and can tolerate a wide temperature range. They are suited for areas with temperatures as low as -40 degrees Fahrenheit and can withstand up to around 90 degrees Fahrenheit. The ideal temperature conditions for rowans are between 50 - 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Being a cold-hardy tree, the rowan is well-suited for northern climates and can adapt to significant seasonal temperature variations.

  • scissorsPruning

    Prune Rowan trees to remove dead or diseased wood, and to shape the tree or control its size. Pruning is best done in late winter or early spring before new growth starts. Young trees benefit from annual pruning to establish a strong framework of branches, whereas mature trees may only need pruning every few years. Avoid heavy pruning as it can stress the tree.

  • broomCleaning

    As needed

  • bambooSoil

    Rowan trees prefer well-draining, loamy soil with a pH between 5.5 and 6.5. The best soil mix includes garden soil, compost, peat, and sand in equal parts to ensure adequate fertility and drainage.

  • plantRepotting

    Rowan trees, being larger landscape plants, do not require frequent repotting. Younger trees can be repotted every 2-3 years, while mature trees are generally not repotted but may need soil replenishment.

  • water dropsHumidity & Misting

    Rowan trees are adaptable to a wide range of humidity levels and do not require specific humidity conditions, thriving in both dry and moist atmospheric conditions.

  • pinSuitable locations

    • Indoor

      Not suited for indoor growth; requires full sun and space.

    • Outdoor

      Plant in full sun, well-draining soil, and provide ample space.

    • Hardiness zone

      3-7 USDA

  • circleLife cycle

    Sorbus aucuparia, commonly known as Rowan or European mountain-ash, begins its life cycle as a seed, which germinates in spring after cold stratification through winter, a period of cold required to break dormancy. Seedlings establish with sufficient light, and the plant enters a vegetative state, producing compound leaves and woody growth as it matures into a small tree. After a few years, once mature enough, the Rowan produces clusters of white flowers typically in late spring, which are pollinated by insects, leading to fertilization. Following pollination, the flowers develop into bright red berries by late summer, containing seeds that are dispersed by birds and other animals. The tree is deciduous, shedding its leaves in autumn, and then entering a dormancy period over winter where metabolic processes slow down considerably. The Rowan tree can live for up to 200 years, continuing the cycle of flowering and fruiting annually after reaching maturity.

  • sproutPropogation

    • Propogation time

      Late winter

    • The most popular method of propagation for the Rowan tree, Sorbus aucuparia, is through seed sowing. Seeds usually require stratification to break dormancy, a process which involves mixing the seeds with moist sand and storing them in a cold environment between 33-41°F (0.5-5°C) for approximately 90-120 days. After cold stratification, the seeds are sown in a well-draining soil medium in the early spring. Germination can be slow, and it may take several weeks to several months for the seeds to sprout. Once seedlings have developed true leaves and reached a robust size, typically several inches tall, they can be transplanted into individual pots or directly into their designated growing location. It's important to protect young seedlings from extreme weather and pests during their vulnerable early stages of growth.