Rowan berry – characteristics, cultivation and use

rowan berry
rowan berry

Most people think that mountain ash is poisonous. This is an advantage for those who know better, as this will allow you to collect plenty of rowan fruits to make jam or jelly.

However, the rowan berry, also known as mountain ash, even has healing effects, but is not even known to all initiates. Above all, it is very helpful for the digestive system and the mountain ash can also help with lung problems.

Profile of rowan:

Scientific name: Sorbus aucuparia

Plant family: rose family (Rosaceae)

Other names: mountain ash, rowan berry

Sowing time / Planting time: April – May

Flowering period: May – June

Harvest time: August – October

Useful plant parts: fruits, flowers, leaves

Location: sunny to partially shaded

Soil quality: sandy to loamy, nutritious and humous

These information are for temperate climate!

Use as a medicinal herb: bloating, bronchitis, diarrhea

Use as aromatic herb: tea, puree, juice

Plant characteristics and classification of rowan berry

Origin and occurrence of rowan berry

The rowan (Sorbus aucuparia), commonly known as rowan berry, is widespread throughout Europe and can be found at altitudes up to 2,000 m (6,500 ft). It is also native to Asia Minor and Siberia.

Plant order of rowan berry

The botanical name Sorbus aucuparia is composed of the Latin words “avis” for “bird” and “capere” for “catch”, since the fruits of the rowanberry were used in former times for attracting and capturing birds. It belongs to the family Rosaceae.

rowan berry shrub
rowan berry shrub

Characteristics of the rowan berry


The rowan can reach heights of 6 to 12 meters (20 to 40 feet), making it one of the small to medium-sized trees. It can also grow as a multi-stemmed tree or large shrub. Its crown is at first oval, later then roundish. Over the years, it can grow to a width of 4 to 6 meters (13 to 20 feet). Branches and twigs grow very quickly in the first 20 years, then rather haltingly.


The leaves of the rowan berry can grow up to 15 cm (6 in) long. They are alternate and pinnate. The upper surface appears in a rich green to dark green, the underside is blue-gray/gray-green and initially hairy. A particularly beautiful sight is the rowan berry in autumn, when their leaves take on a magnificent color in yellow, orange or fire red.


The flowers of rowan appear in early summer, from May to June, in a bright white. They appear as broad, flat panicles.


The fruits of the rowanberry are spherical and have a diameter of about 0.8 cm (0.3 in). They are very numerous and hang from the end of August to October on the tree. The most striking is their bright red color, which is visible from afar.

Rowan berry – cultivation and care


The location should be sunny to partially shaded. Of course, it occurs in mixed forests, heaths or bog areas.


The rowan berry is a fairly undemanding tree, which thrives even on sandy to loamy soil. The best growth, however, it achieves on loose and weakly acidic substrate with high humus and nutrient content.


In the spring or fall is the best time for planting. The dug hole should at least correspond to the root or bale size of the rowan berry. The surrounding soil is at best loose and crumbly. Any compaction must be removed. For a better stand you can put a tree pole, which can be removed again as soon as the rowanberry is well grown and has a secure rooting. This is usually the case after two years at the latest.


The rowanberry does not want to dry out. Too intensive watering measures are also not advisable. The trees do not tolerate waterlogging. This is already to be considered when choosing the substrate. Too heavy soils prevent irrigation water from draining. When mixed with sand or gravel, the soil becomes more porous.

In rainy times the rowan needs no additional irrigation. In dry and hot summers should be watered additionally. The uppermost layer of earth may dry. It is important that the soil does not dry out completely and the plant can no longer provide sufficient moisture through its roots.


The undemanding rowanberry copes well with conventional garden soil. If mature compost or horn shavings have been added to the substrate during planting, the nutrient supply for the first years of existence is assured. Particularly barren soils can be enriched with compost annually. For this, simply loosen up the upper soil layer and incorporate the natural fertilizer. If the soil is mulched before planting, further fertilizer applications in the first two years may also be absent.

If you would like to fertilize additionally, you should use a special product for deciduous trees and ornamental shrubs. This fertilizer is usually nitrogen-poorer and gets the plant better than conventional fertilizer for green plants.

The mountain ash loses its leaves in autumn. These should not be eliminated by diligent hobby gardeners. The foliage begins to decompose rapidly and releases the magnesium contained to the ground. Thus, you only need to incorporate the foliage into the soil and thus have provided a valuable natural fertilizer.


With a well-chosen location and suitable soil, the rowan berry does not require any special care. Young plants do not tolerate prolonged dryness bad. Here you should counteract in the first months after planting with regular watering. In the absence of cut or on poor soil, the rowan tends to age. In the wild, it often comes to game damage by biting. If your garden is in close proximity to a forest and is not protected by a fence, you may want to protect the stem.


If we consider the natural growth of mountain ash, it becomes clear that the tree does not cause any bigger problems when pruning. The rowanberry sets as a young plant at a rapid pace and has grown quickly to a small tree about two meters (6 feet) high. Older trees grow noticeably slower, so that the pruning stays within reason and can be well planned, since the mountain ash will not outgrow in the meantime.

If the tree is to be kept very small, of course you have to cut back. Even in the case of illness or pest infestation, pruning is necessary. As the mountain ash is more likely to form bright crowns, a clearing will hardly be necessary. Who still wants to cut branches back, should wait for the heyday.

Who would like to enjoy the berries, should not remove the blooms. A pruning should be done directly at the branching. Do not leave stubs behind. This unnecessarily deprives power of the tree. To avoid injury to the tree, use only sharp and pre-disinfected cutting tools.

Diseases and pests

The rowan can be attacked by some serious diseases. Nectria cancers can be recognized by the fact that the bark is cracked and new shoots die quickly. In summer, an infected rowan shows white fungal spores, which form small red fruiting bodies in winter. The affected areas must necessarily be removed over a large area. The same applies to silver leaf disease and coral spot (Nectria cinnabarina). In this case, the affected and removed plant parts must be additionally destroyed and must not end up on the compost.

Waterlogging and a strong nitrogen fertilization favor the emergence of apple cancer, a fungal infection that can bring the entire plant to wither. Here, too, the branches and twigs of the rowanberry must be removed, the affected areas must be cut out of the stem over a large area and closed again with wound closure material. Fire blight is a bacterial disease that spreads very quickly and must be reported to the competent authority, the Official Crop Protection Service. The affected areas of the rowanberry should cut back at least 60 centimeters (25 in), then burn the removed branches and sterilize the tool used.


The winter can not harm the rowan. The trees do not need additional protection. The foliage takes on an attractive color in autumn and then falls to the ground. The berries adorn the winter garden and are a popular food source for birds.

However, young plants should not spend their first winter outdoors. The winter quarters should be light and cool. While overwintering in the house the young mountain ash must be occasionally irrigated during the winter months, so that they do not dry up and the roots can continue to develop well.

rowan berry in winter
rowan berry in winter

Use of the rowan berry

Rowan berry in the kitchen

Rowan berries have an extremely high puree C content, which is retained in parts even after the cooking process. They taste as jam or Mus especially well together with other fruits, but can also be used pure. Rowan berries are also suitable for juicing. In combination with freshly squeezed apple juice, you get a sweet and sour juice, which should be boiled before eating. As an addition to flavor, the berries can be used in small quantities for the preparation of wild herb fruit bars.

With the slightly sour almond-like flowers you can season different desserts.

Rowan berry as a medicinal herb

Dried mountain ash fruits stimulate the kidneys and promote the excretion of kidney stones. Do a 30-day cure with the dried berries. Start with one berry a day and take one berry each day until you come to 15 pieces. From now on, eat one berry less each day until you are back at one fruit.

Rowan berry puree

Rowan cultivates the intestinal flora and helps to build up the intestine after antibiotics and intestinal diseases. You can also take it on loss of appetite, stomach upset and strengthening the lungs. The ingredients of rowan also have a strengthening and invigorating effect on the entire organism.

To make the rowan berry puree, cook the berries gently and then pass through a sieve. To soften the very harsh taste, you can add other fruits. For longer shelf life, cook again and put it in sterilized glasses. After the onset, you should keep the puree in the refrigerator and consume within a few days. For a cure to build up the intestinal flora take a teaspoon of it daily.

Preparation of a rowan berry tea

In the spring, the flowers and leaves make a delicious tea infusion, which is taken against stomach problems and to clean the lymph, kidneys, bladder and blood.

  • put a tablespoon of the flowers and leaves in a tea strainer in a cup
  • dash with hot water
  • let steep for 5 to 10 minutes

In case of glaucoma, prostate problems, metabolic problems, tonsillitis, sore throat and hoarseness, a tea from the berries helps. It also acts as a balm on heavily used vocal cords.

Rowan berry can be used for these ailments and diseases

  • bile duct inflammation
  • biliary obstruction
  • bloating
  • bronchitis
  • cirrhosis
  • cholecystitis
  • constipation
  • diarrhea
  • gallen problems
  • gallstones
  • glaucoma
  • indigestion
  • liver problems
  • lung infection
  • scurvy

Medicinal properties

  • diuretic
  • immune system-enhancing

Side effects

not known


Ask your doctor or pharmacist. Visiting this page can not replace the visit to the doctor. For serious or unclear complaints, consult your doctor.

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