Sorbus aucuparia L. (European mountain ash)

Scientific name : Sorbus aucuparia L.
Botanical Family : Rosaceae

Plant Popularity

The plant Sorbus aucuparia L., is the 8749th most popular plant at placing it in the top 5% of botanical plant names on our site.

English name : European mountain ash
Description : An elegant tree up to about 30 ft. high with numerous spreading branches ; bark brownish-grey, smooth, branchlets reddish-brown ; winter-buds ovoid, hairy ; leaves alternate, pinnate, with about 6-8 pairs of leaflets and an end one, and a slightly winged common stalk ; leaflets oblong, toothed (dentate), smooth or more or less hairy below ; stipules very small and soon falling off and leaving a slight scar ; flowers small, rather densely arranged in a more or less flat cluster (corymb), scented ; calyx adnate to the lower part of the carpels, with 5 short triangular teeth ; petals creamy-white, rounded ; stamens 20-25; anthers brownish-yellow ; styles usually 3, hairy at the base ; fruit more or less globular, fleshy, about in. diam., scarlet or rarely orange, soon eaten by birds.

This beautiful tree will scarcely be confused with any other native kinds because of its distinctive characters. It is a favour¬ite for small gardens, and is often planted as a street tree, where it provides food for birds in the autumn. It is more common in the northern parts of Britain, and in the past was put to many uses, some due to superstitition. For instance, it was supposed to be a protection against witchcraft, a twig being carried about the person for this purpose. The wood is hard with a fine grain, but the tree should not be confused with the true Ash, Fraxinus excelsior L., described under fig. 60 and which has opposite leaves and dry winged fruits.

There are several exotic species of Sorbus related to the Rowan which are becoming increasingly popular, not only because of their elegant form and foliage, but because of the beauty of their autumn colours and their ornamental fruits. One of the most interesting species is the South European Sorbus domestica L., a single tree of which grew in the middle of the Wyre forest in Worcestershire, where is was probably introduced in Roman times. It was regarded as an old tree in 1678, and lasted until 1862, when it was maliciously burnt down. It is pleasant to recall that descendants of this tree, which was known to everyone and venerated in the neighbourhood, are still growing in the forest. The fruits are interesting, being of two shapes, on one tree being shaped like a pear, and on another like an apple.

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