Content Detail

European mountain ash, or Rowan tree, is a small, 20 to 40 feet tall with white, flat-topped flowers, smooth gray bark, and clusters of bright red, persistent fruits. Native to cooler climates of Europe and Asia, it is often prone to many insect and disease problems when grown in warm climates. May be difficult to find in the nursery trade.

  • Family (English) Rose
  • Family (botanic) Rosaceae
  • Planting site Under utility lines
  • Tree or plant type Tree
  • Foliage Deciduous (seasonally loses leaves)
  • Native locale Non-native
  • Size range Small tree (15-25 feet), Medium tree (25-40 feet)
  • Light exposure Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily)
  • Hardiness zones Zone 3, Zone 4, Zone 5 (Northern Illinois), Zone 6 (City of Chicago)
  • Soil preference Acid soil, Moist, well-drained soil
  • Season of interest mid spring, late spring, early summer, midsummer, late summer, early fall
  • Flower color and fragrance White
  • Shape or form Open, Round
  • Growth rate Moderate

Size & form:

This is a small tree growing 20 to 40 feet tall and 15 to 25 feet wide. It is a short-lived tree that is best grown in cool climates.

Native geographic location and habitat:

This tree is native to northern Europe and Asia.

Attracts birds & Butterflies:

Flowers attract butterflies and the berry-like fruit is a favorite of many bird species.

Bark color and texture: 

The bark is smooth and gray with white streaks from lenticels.  Older bark is slightly rough.

Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, and texture:

Leaves are alternate and pinnately compound with 9 to 15 leaflets. Leaflets have slightly serrated leaf margins. They are dull dark green above,  paler beneath, and turn yellow to reddish-orange in the fall.

Flower arrangement, shape, and size:

White, five-petaled flowers in flat-topped clusters appear in May and have a slightly unpleasant odor.

Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions:

Clusters of small, red berry-like fruit (pomes) grow on the tree. The common name Rowan refers to the old Scandinavian word meaning red.

Plant Care:

Plant in a cool moist location.  It does best in full sun but will tolerate some shade. This tree prefers well-drained, slightly acidic soils. May be difficult to find in the nursery trade.

List of pests, diseases, and tolerances:

European mountain ash is prone to many insect and disease problems. Borers and cankers diseases are serious problems on stressed trees.

Cardinal Royal® European Mountain-ash (Sorbus aucuparia ‘Michred’): 

Upright, narrow oval form is 35 feet high by 20 feet wide and has bright red fruit.


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