Information on Rowan

Common Name: Rowan
Scientific Name: Sorbus aucuparia
Irish Name: Caorthann
Family Group: Rosaceae
Distribution: View Map (Courtesy of the BSBI)
Flowering Period

Click for list of all flowering by month
Rowan is not easily confused with other wild plants on this web site.

This is a small tree which grows to about 15m high and is commonly found in glens, by mountain streams, in woods and rocky places, rarely on lime.  It bears large, flat heads of numerous creamy-white 5-petalled flowers (each 6-9mm) in May and June and these heads become the familiar clusters of red berries in autumn.  The distinctive ash-like leaves are green on both sides, pinnate, with up to 9 pairs of oblong, toothed leaflets.  This is a native plant and it belongs to the family Rosaceae

I first identified this beautiful tree growing on Djouce mountain in Co Wicklow in 1976.  I photographed it in Glenmalure in 2007 (berries) and 2008 (flowers).  

If you are satisfied you have correctly identified this plant, please submit your sighting to the National Biodiversity Data Centre

From our folklore: 'If you pluck the branch of a rowan tree and put it on the roof with a piece of timber, it is said that the roof will be safe from storms for twelve months.'

From the National Folklore Collection, University College Dublin.   NFC 455:237 From Co Kerry 

Also known as Mountain Ash, Boar Tree and Quicken Tree, this tree is very kind to nature.  Its strongly-scented flowers attract moths such as the Common Emerald and Brimstone moths, and the berries feed many varieties of birds in autumn, the birds helping in the seed dispersal.  The species name 'aucuparia' comes from the Latin 'aucupor' meaning to catch birds