Rowan, Sorbus aucuparia

Identification Features

  • Bark: Silvery and very smooth other than horizontal bands of lenticels. Bark typically dulls in colour and sheen in older trees but scarcely rugged. 
  • Twigs: Shoots green and hairy at first. Twigs grey, hairless and shiny. 
  • Buds: Quite dull and unimpressive. Dark grey, sometimes with a tinge of purple. Covered in greyish-white hairs. Roughly egg-shaped with a more pointed, conical tip.

Description/General Character:
A small to medium sized tree with a straight, clean trunk. A fairly open and uncluttered top with branches pointing cleanly upwards. Hardy.

Native over a large area of Europe, including the far north. East to Turkey and the Caucasus. North Africa from the Atlas mountains northwards.

Woodland and open country, provided it’s not too wet. Rowan will grow higher up hillsides than many species, hence the “mountain ash” moniker.

Other Observations:
Fruits can persist after the leaves have fallen, although a few leaves can sometimes remain. Going into autumn/winter, leaves typically turn yellow and then a dull brown but can show startling reds.

Author: Paul

Paul has had an interest in the outdoors since he was a young kid. Walking, tracking and exploring the wilderness around him, from disused overgrown railway lines to the vast wilderness of the UK national parks. Over the last few years Paul has honed his skills into specific areas of bushcraft and survival. He is an expert in map reading, shelter building and knots, traps and fishing.


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