Growing the European Mountain Ash - Sorbus aucuparia

Red berries of Rowan tree (Sorbus aucuparia), August

Gary K Smith / Photolibrary / Getty Images

If you'd like to make sure there's color in your yard in the winter, plant European mountain ash. The tree produces a plethora of red fruits in the summer that will remain even after the leaves drop off.

This species is not a true ash tree (Fraxinus spp.).

Latin Name

This member of the Rosaceae family is known as Sorbus aucuparia. Other well-known members of this family include roses, strawberries, the Prunus genus (which contains apricots, almonds, cherries, nectarines, peaches, and plums, among others), Cotoneaster spp., raspberries, and blackberries.

Common Names

Names that you may see applied to this tree include European rowan, mountain ash, rowan, and European mountain ash.

Preferred USDA Hardiness Zones

Zones 3–7 are the recommended areas for growing this tree. It originally grew in Asia and Europe.

Size & Shape

This tree reaches a height of 20–40 feet tall as it forms into an oval or round shape.

Exposure

You should choose a place in your landscape where the tree will get full sun.

Foliage/Flowers/Fruit

The pinnately compound leaves are arranged alternately on the stem, each one featuring 9–15 leaflets.

White flowers are produced in May and are borne in cymes (clusters).

After the flower show, the tree will be covered with clusters of red-orange pome fruits.

Design Tips for the European Mountain Ash

Invite birds into your garden by planting one of these trees, which is a favorite treat. Add winter color to your garden with the red berries.

Growing Tips

Test your soil before planting one of these trees. You need to have soil that is acidic for the tree to grow well. There are steps you can take to make your soil acidic if it is not already.

Maintenance/Pruning

Fire blight can be spread by pruning if the conditions are right (i.e. warm). Prune at the end of winter before the dormant period is over.

Pests & Diseases of the European Mountain Ash

Pests

  • Aphids
  • Apple fruit moth (Argyresthia conjugella)
  • Blister mites
  • Borers
  • Deer
  • Mountain-ash sawfly larvae (Pristiphora geniculata)
  • Scales such as the oystershell scale (Lepidosaphes ulmi)

Diseases

  • Apple scab (Venturia inaequalis)
  • Botryosphaeria dieback and canker (Botryosphaeria dothidea)
  • Cedar-quince rust (Gymnosporangium clavipes)
  • Cytospora canker (Cytospora spp.)
  • Fire blight (caused by Erwinia amylovora)
  • Powdery mildew