Whitebeam Sorbus 'John Mitchell'

👤 Non-toxic to humans
🐾 Non-toxic to pets
🌸 Blooming
🍪 Edible
‍🌱 Easy-care
Tibetan whitebeam 'John Mitchell'


Sorbus 'John Mitchell' is a deciduous tree known for its ornamental qualities and striking features throughout different seasons. The plant showcases pinnate leaves, which means that the leaflets are arranged in a feather-like pattern along a central stem. The leaves themselves are broad with serrated edges, fresh green in spring, and they transform into a fiery array of reds and oranges in autumn, providing a vibrant seasonal display. Come springtime, the tree is adorned with clusters of creamy-white flowers, which are small yet bountiful, creating a frothy effect that can cover the canopy of the tree. These flowers not only add to the visual appeal of the tree but also attract pollinators such as bees. As the seasons progress, these flowers give way to berry-like fruits. The fruits usually come in shades of red, and sometimes they may have a slightly orange or pink hue. They are attractive to birds and wildlife, which find them a valuable food source in colder months. The overall structure of Sorbus 'John Mitchell' is upright and rounded, with a branching pattern that gives it a tidy, yet somewhat spreading appearance. The bark of the tree is smooth and provides a subtle texture to the landscape. This attractive appearance across seasons makes Sorbus 'John Mitchell' a versatile and cherished plant in many gardens and landscapes.

Plant Info
Common Problems

About this plant

  • memoNames

    • Family


    • Synonyms

      John Mitchell Rowan, John Mitchell Mountain Ash

    • Common names

      Sorbus 'John Mitchell'.

  • skullToxicity

    • To humans

      The Sorbus 'John Mitchell', commonly known as the Rowan or Mountain Ash, is not considered highly toxic to humans. The berries have been used historically in folk medicine and can be made into jellies or jams after cooking, which eliminates any mild toxicity. However, consuming large quantities of the raw berries may cause stomach upset or more severe symptoms of poisoning such as nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea due to the presence of parasorbic acid, which can be toxic in large amounts. It is advised to avoid consuming any part of the plant that has not been properly identified and deemed safe by an expert.

    • To pets

      The Sorbus 'John Mitchell', commonly known as the Rowan or Mountain Ash, is generally not highly toxic to pets; however, like in humans, the raw berries can cause gastrointestinal upset if eaten in significant quantities due to the presence of parasorbic acid. Symptoms in pets that have ingested large amounts of raw Rowan berries might include vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain. If you suspect your pet has eaten a large amount of the berries, it is best to consult with a veterinarian.

  • infoCharacteristics

    • Life cycle


    • Foliage type


    • Color of leaves


    • Flower color


    • Height

      40 feet (12 meters)

    • Spread

      20 feet (6 meters)

    • Plant type


    • Hardiness zones


    • Native area



  • money-bagGeneral Benefits

    • Ornamental Value: Sorbus 'John Mitchell' is known for its attractive foliage and seasonal changes in color, providing visual interest throughout the year.
    • Wildlife Habitat: The tree produces berries which are a valuable food source for birds and other wildlife, especially during the colder months.
    • Shade Provider: With a broad canopy, it offers shade in gardens and parks, making it a practical choice for sunny areas.
    • Low Maintenance: Typically requiring minimal care once established, it's a good selection for those who seek an attractive garden without extensive upkeep.
    • Drought Tolerance: Once established, the tree is relatively tolerant to periods of drought, reducing the need for constant watering.
    • Adaptability: It can tolerate a range of soil types and conditions, making it versatile for various landscapes.
    • Seasonal Interest: It provides year-round interest with spring flowers, summer foliage, fall color, and winter berries.

  • 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 densely-branched habit of John Mitchell Rowan makes it suitable for use as a natural privacy screen in gardens.
    • The robust structure of the Rowan tree offers a secure nesting site for various species of birds.
    • Due to its distinct leaf shape and arrangement, it can be used in botanical education to help identify and differentiate between tree species.
    • Rowan wood, due to its strength and durability, can be used in woodworking to create small specialty items like tool handles or walking sticks.
    • Its picturesque form and bright berry clusters can be used as a subject for photography and painting, particularly in autumn.
    • The berries can be used in the crafting of natural dyes for textiles, yielding shades from orange to pink depending on the mordant used.
    • As a flowering tree, it can serve as a pollen source for bees and other beneficial insects in the early summer months.
    • The fallen leaves of Rowan provide organic matter and can be used to create a nutrient-rich leaf mould for garden beds.
    • Being a relatively tall tree, it can act as a windbreak in rural landscapes or large gardens when planted in a row with others of its kind.
    • The tree’s aesthetic appeal due to changes in leaf color and fruiting can be incorporated into seasonal landscaping designs and themes.

Interesting Facts

  • bedFeng Shui

    The Mountain Ash is not used in Feng Shui practice.

  • aquariusZodiac Sign Compitability

    The Mountain Ash is not used in astrology practice.

  • spiralPlant Symbolism

    • Protection: Sorbus, commonly known as rowan, is often associated with protection. In mythology, rowan trees were believed to ward off evil spirits and were planted near homes for this purpose.
    • Wisdom: The rowan tree is also a symbol of wisdom. This association comes from the tree's presence in ancient lore and its connection to knowledge-seeking figures in mythology.
    • Life and Vitality: The rowan's robust nature and its ability to thrive in harsh conditions makes it a symbol of life and vitality, representing the resilience and the will to live.
    • Healing: In some traditions, the rowan tree is thought to possess healing properties, with its berries especially linked to medicinal uses.
    • Magic and Mysticism: Rowan trees are often connected to magic and mysticism. Their presence was considered a safeguard against enchantments and spells.

Every 1-2 weeks
2500 - 10000 Lux
Every 3-5 years
Late winter to early spring
As needed
  • water dropWater

    The Rowan tree, commonly known as Sorbus 'John Mitchell,' should be watered deeply and less frequently to encourage a strong root system. Generally, young trees should be watered every week with about 15 gallons during its first growing season, especially if there's no significant rainfall. For established trees, reduce watering to every two to three weeks, using the same amount, depending on weather conditions. During hot, dry spells, weekly watering may again become necessary. It's important to check soil moisture before watering to ensure that you don't overwater, as Rowan trees do not like to sit in waterlogged soil.

  • sunLight

    Rowan trees, such as Sorbus 'John Mitchell,' thrive in full sun to partial shade. They perform best when planted in a location that receives at least six hours of direct sunlight per day. An ideal spot would not be overshadowed by taller trees or buildings to ensure they receive sufficient light throughout the day.

  • thermometerTemperature

    Rowan trees like the Sorbus 'John Mitchell' are hardy and can tolerate a wide range of temperatures. They grow best in temperatures ranging from 65°F to 75°F but can survive in temperatures as low as -20°F and as high as 90°F. However, they do prefer a cooler climate and may struggle in extreme, prolonged heat.

  • scissorsPruning

    Pruning Rowan trees like Sorbus 'John Mitchell' allows for removal of damaged or diseased limbs and helps maintain the tree's shape. The best time to prune is during the dormant season, which is late winter or early spring. It's important to remove any crossing branches, dead wood and to thin out the canopy if necessary for light and air circulation. Pruning should be done annually or as needed to keep the tree healthy and aesthetically pleasing.

  • broomCleaning

    As needed

  • bambooSoil

    Rowan 'John Mitchell' thrives in well-draining loamy soil with a pH range of 6.0 to 7.0. To create the best soil mix, blend garden soil with peat moss and perlite or sand to improve drainage and aeration. Additionally, incorporating organic matter like compost can provide essential nutrients for the tree's growth.

  • plantRepotting

    Rowan 'John Mitchell' does not typically require frequent repotting as it is a large tree and is usually planted outdoors. In its juvenile stages, it may be repotted every few years until it is established enough to be permanently planted in the ground.

  • water dropsHumidity & Misting

    Rowan 'John Mitchell' is tolerant of a wide range of humidity conditions and does not require any specific humidity levels to thrive, as it is an outdoor tree that adapts to local climatic conditions.

  • pinSuitable locations

    • Indoor

      Rowan 'John Mitchell' is unsuitable for indoor growth due to its size.

    • Outdoor

      Plant in well-drained soil, full sun, water and mulch regularly.

    • Hardiness zone

      5-7 USDA

  • circleLife cycle

    The Rowan 'John Mitchell' begins its life cycle when the seeds, typically from berries, are dispersed by birds or gravity and successfully germinate in a suitable location. Seedlings emerge and develop into juvenile plants, forming a small rosette of leaves on the ground. As the sapling grows, it develops a sturdy trunk, branching out to form the characteristic shape of the Rowan. The tree will reach maturity in several years, and during the spring, it will produce clusters of creamy-white flowers, which, if pollinated, will develop into berries by the autumn. The berries serve as a means for seed dispersal, and the cycle continues with seed germination, while the mature tree also undergoes a period of dormancy during the winter months. The Rowan 'John Mitchell' can live for many years, continuing to grow and reproduce until it reaches the end of its lifespan, potentially succumbing to environmental stresses, disease, or old age.

  • sproutPropogation

    • Propogation time

      Late winter to early spring

    • The Sorbus 'John Mitchell', commonly known as the 'John Mitchell' Rowan or Mountain Ash, can be propagated by seed or by grafting, with seed propagation generally initiating in the fall after the seeds have been stratified. However, the most popular method of propagation for this ornamental tree is through grafting, particularly onto rootstocks of other Sorbus species. This is typically carried out in late winter or early spring. During this process, a scion, which is a cutting from a mature 'John Mitchell' Rowan with desired characteristics, is fused onto a compatible rootstock. The graft union is then sealed with grafting tape or wax to prevent drying and infection. This method allows cultivators to replicate the desired traits of the 'John Mitchell' more reliably and quickly than seed propagation.