Mountain Ash (Sorbus aucuparia)

Sorbus aucuparia is a tree with many names including Mountain Ash and Rowan. The binomial name Sorbus aucuparia is composed of the Latin words sorbus for ‘service tree’ and aucuparia, which derives from the words avis for "bird" and capere for "catching" and describes the popularity of the trees fruit to birds.

Mountain ash thrives across the northern hemisphere between Iceland to China and as the name suggests is happy at high altitudes. They are not related at all to ash trees and most likely received that common name due to their similar leaves.

They can grow to 15m tall and live for over 100 years. The bark is smooth and silvery grey, and leaf buds are purple and hairy. The leaves are pinnate (like a feather) with 5-8 pairs of leaflets and one at the end. Each leaf is long, oval and serrated.

One of Mountain ash’s most distinguishing features is the bright berries which are a rich source of summer and Autumn food for many bird and mammal species. They are particularly popular with thrushes and other songbirds as well as foxes, badgers and squirrels.


Photo credit: Colin McAlister 

Did you know?

They are edible for humans due to the rich content of vitamin C and are described as a ‘superfood’. However, they are very bitter until frozen or cooked and are mostly used as a preserve or sauce for flavouring rather than a raw snack!

Where to find it??

Mountain Ash is a  very adaptable tree growing on most soil types and enjoying the shade as well as full sun. We have planted them all along the parkland sections of the Greenway to add to the existing mature specimens already there. You can see them at Marsh-wiggle Way, Orangefield, Victoria, Dixon and Flora Street. Have a look at the abundance of berries which are currently out on many of the trees. See if you can spot the 5 pointed star at the base of the fruits which helps give this tree the reputation that it can ward off evil spirits...    

Photo credit: Paul Hunter


Be Part of it…

Let us know if you see anything growing on the Greenway that you want included in the blog. We love to see your pictures and comments on the amazing natural landscape on our doorstep.