Mountain Ash

Mountain Ash (Sorbus aucuparia). The name is misleading as it is not actually related to our common Ash, it is only that the leaves are similar in appearance. The ‘Mountain’ part come from its ability to withstand cold, harsh conditions and altitude. It is better known as the Rowan tree. It grows to 6-8m in 10 years and is tolerant of almost all soils and wind. It bears clusters of white flowers in May/June followed by large bundles of orange/red berries in the autum.

The berries are high in vitamin C and were once used to prevent scurvy. Although sour when eaten raw, they are generally made into a jelly as a culinary accompaniment to game, such as deer or pheasant. However, birds are less fussy and will strip and eat a tree of its fruit in next to no time.

The rowan has long been associated with the supernatural. Planted in churchyards to keep the dead in their graves and thus stopping ghosts from disturbing the living, it has also traditionally been used to protect people and livestock from witches and sorcery.