Woodland Trust

Nature's CalendarNature Detectives

Bluebells are just starting to flower

Rowan berries. Shaun Nixonrowan

Sorbus aucuparia


Why not download our rowan fact sheet?

rowan fact sheet

  • Rowan flowers. istockphoto.comA fairly fast growing species reaching 15 metres tall

  • Has smooth grey-green bark

  • Distinctive ash-like leaves, although smaller more numerous leaflets

  • Young twigs are slightly hairy, and the buds very hairy when bursting

  • Small, creamy flowers in dense clusters 10-15 cm across

  • Clusters of red berries in early autumn

  • Rowan full tint. Sue MallinsonLeaves turn bright orange-red before being shed in autumn

Beware of the many cultivars and hybrids that are planted in streets, parks and gardens

Where found

Widespread as grows happily on quite poor soil, although more common in the wild in west and north of the UK where it grows higher (1,000 metres) than any other tree, hence its other name, ‘mountain ash’.

When to look for

Rowan vodka

Try our delicious rowan vodka recipe:

rowan vodka

Fabulous rowan facts

  • Rowan berries are an important food source for birds including chaffinches, siskins, blackbirds, fieldfares and redwings

  • They were once planted to protect farm cottages from roaming witches and can still be seen around many farm yards

  • Rowan berries, bitter and inedible fresh, can be used to make delicious jams and jellies

  • A rowan tree planted upon a grave was thought to keep the deceased from haunting

  • In Irish legend, the first woman was created from rowan (the first male having been created from alder)

  • In ancient times druids would light fires of rowan wood to help induce insights into forthcoming battles