Chinese Mountain Ash

About this Chinese Mountain Ash

This small tree naturally occurs in dense forests on mountain slopes and gullies of western China, specifically the province of Hubei, from which it takes its scientific name. In the summer months it produces clouds of white flowers, which are popular with bees. Its delicate leaves are initially tinged bluish-green, before transforming to warmer hues in the autumn, and offering large clusters of fruit along its slender branches.

Sorbus hupehensis is a relatively small tree, and grows up to 10 m. Described from a collection made by Ernest “Chinese” Wilson in 1901, it was introduced into cultivation in the UK in 1910. Most of today’s cultivated Sorbus hupehensis plants derive from the collections of the eminent botanist and plant collector George Forrest, who worked for RBGE from 1910 onwards. Forrest’s collections were from the Lijiang area in Yunnan province of China. RBGE continues to have strong links with this area through collaborative work with the Kunming Institute of Botany, based around a field station at the foot of the Yulong Xue Shan (Jade Dragon Mountain) near Lijiang.

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Rowan, Types and Species Names of Mountain-ash Trees

Picture of a Rowan Tree


European Rowan (Sorbus aucuparia). © 2005 Samuel Lindeman, Picture use (cc2)


Flowers of European Rowan (Sorbus aucuparia)

Rowan Trees are part of the genus Sorbus, subgenus Sorbus. Rowan trees form most of this group, and a few species in North America locally known as “Mountain-ash” (but not related to the Ash Trees) make up the rest of this group (Sorbus, subgenus Sorbus). Most Rowans are small flowering deciduous trees 10 to 20 m (33′ to 66′) tall, some species like Dwarf Rowan Sorbus reducta grow as shrubs however.

Types of Rowan;

Some well known species of Rowan include; European rowan Sorbus aucuparia, and Japanese Rowan Sorbus commixta (Japanese: ナナカマド (七竈)).
Some well known species of Mountain-ash include; American Mountain-ash Sorbus americana, Showy Mountain-ash Sorbus decora, Sitka Mountain-ash Sorbus sitchensis.

Rowan Leaves, Flowers and Fruit;
The leaves of Rowan and Mountain-ash trees are arranged alternately, are pinnate, with (7-)11-35 leaflets, and a terminal leaflet is always present. Flowers of the Rowan trees are borne in dense corymbs, flowers have five cream white petals, about 5 to 10 mm (0,13⁄64″ to 0,25⁄64″) across. Rowan fruit is a small pome 4 to 8 mm (0,5⁄32″ to 0,5⁄16″) in diameter. The pome colors vary among species, most are bright orange or red, others are pink or yellow, and some Asian species are white. Rowan fruit are juicy and soft, making them very attractive food for birds.

Uses for Rowan Trees

Rowans do well as small ornamental trees for landscaping parks, gardens, avenues, boulevards and wildlife areas. These trees are very attractive to fruit-eating birds, so bear in mind that you will have birds visiting these trees frequently if you use them.

Ornamental looks;
Some popular types of Rowan include the Chinese native species, such as Sargent’s rowan (Sorbus sargentiana) for its exceptionally large clusters of fruit, and White-fruited rowan (Sorbus glabrescens) for their unusual fruit color.
Many cultivars have also been selected for landscaping use, for example the yellow-fruited Sorbus ‘Joseph Rock’.

Facts about Rowan Trees
  • Genus Latin Scientific Name = Sorbus
  • Subgenus name = Sorbus
  • Subgenus Common Names = Rowan, Mountain-ash, Wicken-tree, Bird catcher, Witchbane, Witch wood, Wiggin and Round tree
  • Number of Taxa in genus Sorbus subgenus Sorbus = 55. List of Rowan Hybrids
List of Rowan Trees, genus; Sorbus subgenus; Sorbus; – All known species, taxa, organized by scientific Latin botanical name first and common names second
List of Rowan and Mountain-ash Tree Species Names

Botanical Tree Name Common Tree Name
Sorbus amabilis Chinese: 黄山花楸; pinyin: Huángshān huāqiū; ( in English; Huangshan Rowan )
Sorbus americana American mountain-ash
Sorbus aucuparia European rowan
Sorbus californica ¡ ?
Sorbus cashmiriana Kashmir rowan
Sorbus commixta Japanese rowan, (Japanese; ナナカマド or ナナカマド(七竈))
Sorbus decora Showy mountain-ash
Sorbus esserteauiana Esserteau’s rowan
Sorbus fosteri ¡ ?
Sorbus fruticosa ¡ ?
Sorbus glabrescens White-fruited rowan
Sorbus harrowiana Harrow rowan
Sorbus hupehensis Hubei rowan
Sorbus insignis ¡ ?
Sorbus khumbuensis ¡ ?
Sorbus koehneana ¡ ?
Sorbus lanataa ¡ ?
Sorbus matsumurana ¡ ?
Sorbus maderensis Madeira rowan
Sorbus microphylla Small-leaf rowan
Sorbus oligodonta Kite-leaf rowan
Sorbus pallescens ¡ ?
Sorbus pekinensis ¡ ?
Sorbus pinnatifida ¡ ?
Sorbus pluripinnata ¡ ?
Sorbus pohuashanensis ¡ ?
Sorbus pontica ¡ ?
Sorbus poteriifolia ¡ ?
Sorbus prattii ¡ ?
Sorbus pseudovilmorinii ¡ ?
Sorbus pygmaea ¡ ?
Sorbus randaiensis ¡ ?
Sorbus redliana ¡ ?
Sorbus reducta Dwarf rowan
Sorbus rehderiana ¡ ?
Sorbus retroflexis ¡ ?
Sorbus rockii ¡ ?
Sorbus rotundifolia ¡ ?
Sorbus rufo-ferruginea ¡ ?
Sorbus rufopilosa Tsema rowan
Sorbus sargentiana Sargent’s rowan
Sorbus scalaris Ladder rowan
Sorbus scopulina; See below;
Sorbus scopulina var. scopulina Greene mountain-ash
Sorbus scopulina var. cascadensis Cascade mountain-ash
Sorbus simonkaiana ¡ ?
Sorbus sitchensis Sitka mountain-ash
Sorbus stankovii ¡ ?
Sorbus taurica ¡ ?
Sorbus ursina ¡ ?
Sorbus vertesensis ¡ ?
Sorbus vestita ¡ ?
Sorbus vilmorinii Vilmorin’s rowan
Sorbus wardii ¡ ?
Sorbus wilfordii ¡ ?

List of Tree Names last up-dated on 2018-04-07

Rowan Trees

Rowan Trees

Interesting facts about rowan trees:

  • The rowan tree has many different names including Witty tree, Wayfarer’s tree and Traveller’s tree.
  • Druid’s used to use the bark and the berries from the tree to dye their robes for lunar ceremonies black.
  • The berries from the tree were often used to make alcoholic drinks including wine, spirits, ale and mead.

Rowan Trees have a long history of magical properties. They are found throughout history in many different cultures’ mythology from Ancient Greece to Britain. It is very prominent in Norse mythology where it is said that the first woman was made from the rowan tree. It also had a role in saving the life of the Norse God Thor, when it bent over a fast flowing river in the underworld where Thor was being swept away so he could grab on to it and get back to shore. In Britain it has a long history in folklore of providing protection against witchcraft and enchantment. One of the reasons for this could be due to the bright red berries that the tree produces in autumn. The colour red was seen as the best colour for protecting against enchantment so this could have easily added to its reputation. It also was said to protect any dwelling that it grew by and people would carry parts of the tree as protection from enchantment as well as being used to protect cows and dairy produce.
What are the advantages and benefits of growing rowan trees?
There are many different advantages to growing rowan trees. For one thing they are a great source of food for wildlife. Chaffinches, Siskins and Blackbirds are all fans of the tree. In fact Fieldfares and Redwings will plan their migration to the UK from Scandinavia to coincide with the berry production of rowan trees. It is not only the birds that benefit from the berries humans do as well. The fruit from the tree can be cooked and made into rowan jelly. Rowan trees are also know for being healthy, easy to grow and able to tolerate a range of conditions. They are also very aesthetically pleasing as they have gorgeous fruit in summer and autumn, which is normally red but can also be other colours such as pink. This is followed by striking red foliage in autumn and pretty blossom in the spring.
What to look for when buying a rowan tree
Rowan trees are incredibly low maintenance and versatile. They suit both small and larger gardens and are tolerant to a wide range of conditions. They are known for their disease resistance and will also thrive in urban areas. When deciding which variety to buy there a few things to consider. Firstly the size you want your tree to grow to. There are quite a few different varieties ranging in size and vigour so it is important to choose one that will fit comfortably in the area you want to grow it. The colour of the berries and blossom on the tree is also something you may wish to consider. The rowan tree is famous for its beautiful red berries. However, there are actually a wide range of colours to choose from including white, pink, red, orange and even yellow. Finally, a lot of the trees have an excellent autumn colour so you might want to consider that as well when deciding on which to tree to grow.
Are there different types of rowan tree?
Rowan trees are part of the genus Sorbus. This is a collection of over a hundred different varieties of deciduous tree which can be found all over the northern hemisphere. They have a range of different leaf shapes and berry colours including pink, yellow and red. For more information about some of the different varieties available please
How easy is it to grow rowan trees?
Rowan trees need very little aftercare once they have been planted and established. They may need some watering during the drier months of the year and should be fed with a general granular plant food in spring. They can also benefit from having the mulch topped up around them. They are low maintenance and do not need pruning unless it is essential. If pruning is needed it should be carried out in spring or autumn to remove dead or diseased branches and to thin out overcrowded ones.
Does it matter where I place my rowan tree?
Known for being hardy and versatile the rowan tree will tolerate a wide range of soil conditions. However, it prefers to be placed in moist but well drained soil with a pH between 6.5 and 7.5. It will thrive on both an exposed or sheltered site as long as it is in a sunny position. For more information about how to plant a rowan tree please
Are there any disadvantages to growing rowan trees?
Rowan trees can be susceptible to some diseases. However, if proper steps are taken they can be treated for such problems. Fireblight is one disease that affects them. It is caused by the bacterium Erwinia amylovora and the damage it does is visible from spring until autumn. The blossom on the tree will wilt and die at flowering time. A silver white liquid might ooze from the infection during wet weather and the shoots will shrivel and die as the infection continues to spread. This is an issue that can be treated. The affected areas should be pruned back and the infected areas burned. The bark should be peeled and cut back to the healthy wood. One other common problem that these trees face is silver leaf. This is a fungal disease caused by Chondrostereum purpureum. It infects through wounds that have mainly been caused by pruning. The leaves of the tree develop a silvery sheen which is later followed by the affected branches dying. On the branches themselves if you cut across one that has been affected you may see an irregular dark stain in the centre. On the older dead branches bracket shaped fungi appear. Again this issue can be treated. The affected branches should be removed as soon as is possible and disposed of immediately to stop fungal fruiting bodies from appearing.

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