Plant of the Month November 2016

Sorbus aucuparia (European Rowan) commonly called rowan or mountain ash is of the family rosaceae native to the UK and north and western Europe. A fully grown tree may reach 15m and live 200 years. The leaves are pinnate, the flowers creamy white and the fruit in clusters of orange or red berries.

The flowers are pollinated by insects, especially bees and birds feed on the berries. These are also edible to humans but are very sour. They are rich in vitamin C and are best made into a jelly that goes well with meats. Also rich in mythology; the red colour was considered the best for fighting and therefore associated with magic and witches. The old Celtic name is fid nandruad meaning wizard’s tree. In Ireland trees were planted near houses and in Wales in churchyards to protect against spirits. Rowans are prevalent in Scotland where cutting down a tree was considered taboo.

The wood has been used for stirring milk to prevent curdling, as a charm to prevent rheumatism and for making divining rods. Also the wood although strong is not durable but has been used in turnery, craft work and engraving.

Although its common name mountain ash might lead one to think it susceptible to ash die back disease (Chalara fraxinea) this fortunately is not the case. Ash trees are related to olives, and Rowans to the rose family.

At Reveley we have a delightful little tree Sorbus ‘Autumn Spire’ donated by Pauline Forsyth and planted by her on her birthday on the sunclock lawn. This is a compact and narrow columnar tree growing to 4-5 m with orange and red leaves and clusters of vivid orange-yellow fruits in the autumn.

It is an ideal tree for a small garden.

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October 2016

September 2016

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July 2016

June 2016

May 2016

April 2016

March 2016

February 2016

January 2016

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