Sorbus aucuparia

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 Sorbus aucuparia subsp. var.  European mountain ash, Mountain ash, Rowan
Rowan growing with Mountain Pine on a mountainside in the Italian Alps
Habit: tree
Height: to
Width: to
15ft40ft 20ft
Height: 15 ft to 40 ft
Width: warning.png"" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki. to 20 ft
Lifespan: perennial
Origin: Europe, northern Asia
Bloom: early spring, mid spring, late spring
Exposure: sun, part-sun
Features: flowers
Hidden fields, interally pass variables to right place
Minimum Temp: °Fwarning.png"°F" is not a number.
USDA Zones: 2 to 9
Sunset Zones:
Flower features:
Rosaceae > Sorbus aucuparia var. ,

Sorbus aucuparia (Rowan, European Rowan, Mountain ash, or European mountain ash), is a species of the genus Sorbus, native to most of Europe except for the far south, and northern Asia. In the south of its range in the Mediterranean region it is confined to high altitudes in mountains.[1][2]

Sometimes called "Mountain Ash",[3][4] Sorbus is unrelated to the true Ash tree though the leaves are superficially similar.

It is a small to medium-sized deciduous tree typically growing to 8–10 m tall, more rarely 20 m, and exceptionally to 28 m.[5] The bark is smooth, silvery grey of young trees, becoming scaly pale grey-brown and occasionally fissured on old trees. The shoots are green and variably hairy at first, becoming grey-brown and hairless; the buds are conspicuous, purple-brown, and often densely hairy. The leaves are pinnate, 10–22 cm long and 6-12 cm broad, with 9–19 (most often 13–15) leaflets; each leaflet is 3–7 cm long and 15–23 mm broad, with a coarsely serrated margin; they are variably hairy, particularly the petiole and leaf veins on the underside. The hermaphrodite flowers are produced in large terminal corymbs 8–15 cm diameter with up to 250 flowers, the individual flowers 1 cm diameter, with five creamy-white petals, and are insect pollinated. The fruit is a small pome 6–9 mm (rarely up to 14 mm) diameter, green at first, ripening bright red in late summer, and containing up to eight (most commonly two) small seeds. It is diploid, with a chromosome count of 2n=34.[1][6][7]

Widely grown as an ornamental tree in northern Europe, more locally in northern North America, where also sometimes naturalised.


Rowan is very tolerant of cold and is often found at high altitude on mountains; in the UK it occurs at up to 1 000 m altitude, higher than any other tree, and in France up to 2 000 m.[4][6][8]

It is very tolerant of a wide range of soil conditions, including thin acid soils and cracks in cliffs. It also fairly frequently grows as an epiphyte in clefts or cavities of larger trees such as Scots Pines, though epiphytic specimens rarely have growing conditions adequate for them to reach maturity.[6]


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  • Sorbus aucuparia subsp. aucuparia. Temperate Europe and northwest Asia, south to central Spain, central Italy, and northernmost Greece, and east to the Ob and Irtysh rivers. Tree form; leaves and shoots hairy.
  • Sorbus aucuparia subsp. fenenkiana. Bulgaria (endemic).
  • Sorbus aucuparia subsp. glabrata (syn. S. glabrata). Subarctic regions, from Iceland, northernmost Scotland (Orkney, Shetland), northern Scandinavia, northwest Russia, and also locally at tree line in central Europe in the Alps and Carpathians. Shrubby; leaves and shoots less hairy.
  • Sorbus aucuparia subsp. praemorsa. High altitudes in the Mediterranean region in France (Corsica) and Italy (Sicily and Calabria).
  • Sorbus aucuparia subsp. sibirica (syn. S. sibirica). Temperate northern Asia, east of the Ob and Irtysh rivers. Tree form; leaves and shoots hairless.



  1. 1.0 1.1 Rushforth, K. (1999). Trees of Britain and Europe. Collins ISBN 0-00-220013-9.
  2. Den Virtuella Floran: Sorbus aucuparia map
  3. Vedel, H., & Lange, J. (1960). Trees and Bushes in Wood and Hedgerow. Methuen & Co Ltd.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Arkive: Rowan (Sorbus aucuparia)
  5. Tree Register of the British Isles
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 Trees for Life Species Profile: Rowan
  7. Flora of NW Europe: Sorbus aucuparia
  8. Mitchell, A. F. (1982). The Trees of Britain and Northern Europe. Collins ISBN 0-00-219037-0

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