Sorbus- Mountain Ash, Rowan

Deciduous trees or shrubs, chiefly grown for their attractive berries and their decorative foliage.

Situation:

Most species grow rather too large for small gardens. Provide a sunny and airy position.

Soil:

Not very fussy as regards soil, as proved by the fact that they frequently take root on old walls and even on tower pinnacles. However, they will eventually die in a dry situation, and it is therefore advisable to plant them in adequately damp soil.

Propagation From seed, which has to be kept in damp sand for a year before it will germinate.

Sorbus americana, mountain ash: Tree to 8 m tall; large clusters of grey-white flowers in early summer. Magnificent red berries, fairly small. The composite foliage turns a beautiful colour in autumn.

Sorbus aria, whitebeam: Height to 10 m; white or pale-red flowers in late spring. The scarlet berries turn brown at a later stage and are spherical in shape. The leaves are oval, double-serrate, and a magnificent silver colour when they first appear. This phenomenon is even more striking in ‘Lutescens’, an erect-growing tree.

Sorbus aucuparia, native mountain ash: Height to 10 m, grey-white flowers in late spring. The red berries are spherical in shape; composite foliage. Tastigiata’ is a columnar strain which takes up little space. Sorbus decora; Height to 10 m, shrub or tree, very striking; large scarlet berries; dark-green feathery foliage. Sorbus hupehensis: Height to 10 m; a tree with feathery grey-green foliage and yellowish white flowers. ‘November Pink’ is a particularly fine cultivar; it has rose-red berries which are retained until late autumn. Sorbus X thuringiaca: Height to 3 m; a tree with horizontally spreading branches and oval leaves with two bracts at the base; numerous dark-red berries. The finest cultivar is called Tastigiata’ – a tree with a narrow, cone-shaped crown.

Sorbus vilmorinii: Height 3-6 m; often grafted on tall stock, otherwise bushy. Feathery foliage, flowering season early summer. The berries are initially red, later fading to rose red. Very suitable where there is limited space.

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