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  • Botany


The rowan is a tree 10 to 15 metres high of which the seeds are spread by birds, especially thrushes.

Le sorbier des oiseleurs
Rowan. © Jari Kolehmainen, Flickr DP


The rowan (Sorbus aucuparia), is a member of the Rosaceae family. It is also called the "European rowan" or the "mountain ash".

Botanical description of the rowan

This tree has an elegant structure. Its smooth, grey bark is dotted with lenticels. Its deciduous, quite aerial foliage turns from yellow to reddish brown in autumn and consists of rather long quilled leaves, with 10-15 delicately dentate folioles up to the base. Its small white flowers, clustered into graceful corymbs, bloom one by one in May. Its fruit ripen in August - September.

Sorbus aucuparia
Sorbus aucuparia. © Kriska gora, CC by 2.5


This species has grown in France, Switzerland and Belgium for a long time. It is not found in the Mediterranean region and the West. It is mostly found in sparse forests, clearings and hedges.

Growing conditions of the rowan

The rowan is not very demanding and grows quickly. Its deep roots can stabilise scree. It tolerates shade.


This tree is frequently grown for ornamental use, in shopping centre car parks and public gardens. During the fructification period its clusters of small, bright coral red fruit give it a striking appearance. The fruit is edible but is very sharp. It is used to make compotes and jellies. In the past the fruit was distilled to make an eau de vie, especially in the Vosges region. Its wood is sometimes used by sculptors.

Author: Michel Caron

Rowan. © alschim, Flickr CC by nc-nd 2.0 Rowan. © alschim, Flickr CC by nc-nd 2.0

Rowan - 3 Photos


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