Rowan Tree Meaning: Mountain Ash Tree Growing Locations, ID, Care Guide

Content writer Tim Tolka HeadshotWritten by Tim Tolka

Forestry, Trees and Tree Planting | February 26, 2024

Image of a Rowan tree (Mountain Ash Tree) berries in an oval frame with green background.

Did you know that the Rowan Tree is a unique tree that carries tree symbolism among certain cultures?

The Mountain Ash Tree was held to have powers that meant if you wanted to keep your family safe from malicious evil, the ancient Celts would recommend that you plant a Rowan plant next to your house because it will guard against bad luck and malignant spirits.

They believed you should also put Rowan twigs in your pocket because Rowan’s protective powers would then be bestowed on your person to block certain spells.

In fact, the bright red berries were believed to protect as well.1

The Mountain Ash (Rowen tree) has an interesting history, but it’s even more fun to grow this gorgeous “Tree of Life.”

This complete guide outlines how to identify the Rowen tree as well as how to care for and grow Mountain Ash trees.

Rowan Tree (Mountain Ash)

(Sorbus americana)

Rowan tree species card with a lot of leaves on the background
  • Family: Rosaceae
  • Genus: Sorbus
  • Leaf: Serrated edge, gold/yellow, and grows up to 6 inches
  • Bark: Light gray, smooth when young, and scaly when mature
  • Seed: Brown and oblong-shaped
  • Blossoms: Has 4 to 5 white petals and blooms in summer
  • Fruit: Red or orange berry-like pomes
  • Native Habitat: Northeastern North America
  • Height: 15 to 35 feet
  • Canopy: 8 to 20 feet
  • Type: Deciduous
  • USDA: 2a-6b

IUCN Red List of Threatened Species Ranking

Least Concern


Celtic Tree of Life Meaning

In Scotland, Rowan Trees are held in high regard. The ancient Celts called the Rowan Tree the tree of life because of the wide array of wildlife that these trees attract, including butterflies, birds, bees song thrushes, waxwings fieldfares and blackbirds.

This tree was said to give protection and more than one way, and it was not allowed to be cut down this tree because it would cause bad luck. If anything was harvested from the tree, then that which was harvested could only be used to practice a ritual.

The ancient Norse people believed that the very first woman was made from the Rowan Tree.

Its red color used to be considered the best color for going against evil so its bright red berries have been loosely associated with magic. In addition, cutting down a tree like this was considered bad luck in Scotland.

In terms of symbolism, the word was also used for stirring the milk to prevent the milk curdling and could be used as a pocket charm against rheumatism.

How To Identify Rowan Tree or White Flowering Tree (Rowan Tree Flower)

It isn’t very difficult to do white flowering trees identification or identify a Rowan Tree.

You will see this tree in Northern climates. It is distinguished by its low branch and being multi-stand.

Rowan Tree Identification chart: Leaf, flowers, tree, Seed pods, bark

The good thing about the bark is that it’s smooth shiny and gray-brown with horizontal lines that become slightly rough on trees that age. There are bunches of creamy white flowers that are near the leaves after they mature.

Rowan Tree Leaves

The Rowan Tree has leaves that are dark green or bluish-green in color and they grow in compound bunches and with around 11 to 15 serrated leaflets.2 The shape is called Lanceolate.3

They can be identified in the summer or fall by having bright orange-red berries.

Rowan Tree Seeds: Growing Rowan Tree From a Seed (Growing a Rowan Tree From a Seedling)

Getting your hands on a seed outside of the store is a lengthy process. But once you extract the seed, they are generally pretty easy to germinate.

Just mix your Rowan seed with horticultural sand and a compost mixture.5

Close up photo of rowan berries and leaves

(Image: Kapa6519)

For each handful of seeds you can add add two or three handfuls of mixture. Use a pot that has plenty of room for your mixture and your seed and put a layer of stones at the bottom.6

Cover them with a tent and then place the mixture on top of that and put another two or three centimeters sand the pot will need to stay outside during the winter and only water if they show signs of drying out. Never allow the seeds to dry out or they might not germinate.

Once about 10% of them are growing, you’re going to want to remove the weaker seedlings.8 After the thinning process, you can replant them in about five milliliters of compost and water them.

Continue to gradually increase the size of the containers for the first 2-3 years. Then, plant outdoors using proper tree planting steps.

Growing a Rowan Tree From a Cutting

If you want to grow Rowan tree from a cutting you can take 15 to 20 centimeters in the spring room remove the lower leaves and dip the end of adding in hormone rooting powder.7

Then, plant your cutting in a pot with more sand and place it in a warm, sunny spot until the cutting takes root planting your ruins is a good idea during November March.

Planting Tips for Rowan Tree

You want to start with a hole about two to 12 inches deep with a layer of gravel or rocks. It is best to dig a square hole and get rid of weed roots and fork the soil to make it workable.8

The ideal way to grow your Rowan would be in a fertile, in the sun to some shade. It is crucial to water regularly in the first two years to help it become established and stake it to stop root-rock.4

These trees need very little care after they’ve started growing. They should be watered in dry weather and mulched annually with well-rotted horse manure or compost.

It is advised to cut back suckering shoots coming from the base of the tree.

When To Plant Rowan Tree for the Best Yield

When you want to plant the Rowan for the best yield, remember that the Rowan does well between November and March in order to make sure you get the best results.10

Image of 3 rowan trees in a row

(Image: Jorma Peltoniemi20)

If you’re doing it in a pot, then anytime is fine except the heat of the summer. Planting in the Winter months reduces the amount of stress the plant will deal with during transplanting.

Watering Needs for Rowan Tree Plants

While they’re establishing their roots, Rowan Trees need regular watering. After that, every seven to 10 days during the summer is going to be fine.

In general, the Rowan Tree needs around one or two bucket bowls of water around the base of the tree.6 You don’t need to give them any fertilizer except if the soil is poor and if you want you can with some compost during the planting.

How Much Carbon Does Rowan Tree Sequester?

Rowan Trees suck up a lot of pollution without causing damage to their health. So, if you plant one on the street, it’s going to make the air around it healthier for human lungs.

In addition, it soaks up CO2 from the soil, where 10% of the CO2 in the air is deposited every year.11

Because of their ability to sequester carbon they are critical in the fight against climate change.

An acre of forest can absorb 4.5 to 40 tons of carbon dioxide and create up to four tons of oxygen.12 This is enough to offset the annual carbon emissions and is like driving your car 26000 miles.

Best Growing Conditions for Rowan Tree / Mountain Ash

Rowan trees grow easily and do best on soil that is drained well. They do not do well on clay or other wet soil.


Rowan Trees grow in USDA Plant Hardiness Zones 2a through 6b. They also do well and open Sunny sites and can do okay in some shade.

Since they are sensitive to diseases, pollution, and bugs, the Rowan Trees often do well at higher altitudes where there are less insects and less pollution.13

Rowan Tree Facts

In fact, the Rowan Tree belongs to the rose family and isn’t to any of the ashes in the olive family.2

The Rowan Tree can grow anywhere from sea level up to 3000 meters. For this reason, it is also called the Mountain Ash.13

Rowan is a hermaphrodite, meaning each flower has both male and female reproductive parts.5

Rowan Trees prefer acidic soil and it doesn’t do well with salty or compact soil which will lead to the tree having a short life.14

Interestingly, the fruit of the Rowan Tree has been used medicinally in the past and it contains sorbitol, which is a delicious and healthy substitute for sugar.14

Growing Zones for Rowan Tree: Where To Grow Mountain Ash (Rowan Tree Growing Zone)

There are growing zones for the Rowan Tree that are basically ideal places for the Rowan Tree to grow.

The Rowan Tree has its roots throughout the cooler temperatures of the northern hemisphere and is most concentrated in the Himalayas of Southern Tibet and parts of Western China.5

At higher altitudes, it grows in a stunted form. It often grows on cliffs and alone steep hills as well as on top of large rocks are hard to reach.5

How To Stop Rowan Tree Disease (Rowan Tree Disease Prevention)

Regarding how to stop Rowan Tree diseases, there are several diseases and maladies that ravage the Rowan Tree, inhibiting their ability to thrive. To cease Rowan Tree disease, the environment should be free of defoliation and debris so that fungal and bacterial spores cannot affect the growth of the tree.3

Although Rowan’s fruit is not for human consumption the fruit should be taken off the tree before it enters dormancy in order for the tree to thrive.

Our native mountain ash and the European species (also known as a Rowan Tree) are frequently planted as ornamental plants and are susceptible to many of the diseases of apple, particularly apple scab, fire blight, black rot, and rust.16

The thing about Rowan Trees is that they can be privy to fireblight, European mountain ash ringspot-associated virus, and silver leaf disease.3 The Rowan Tree also runs the risk of suffering from browsing by deer.

How much sunlight does Rowan Tree need each day

Common Pests of the Rowan Tree: Natural Pest Control for Rowan Tree

It is important to know how to take care of your Rowan Tree so that it can be the healthiest tree possible. The leaves of this tree are often eaten by the caterpillars, several moths, like the larger Welsh wave and autumn green carpet.

There are caterpillars of the apple fruit moth that feed on the berries. Flowers give pollen and nectar to bees and other pollinating insects, and berries give a healthy source of autumn food for birds.16

Aphids also pose a threat to these trees and although they don’t cause great damage, controlling them will help you protect the leaves of an ash tree from becoming ugly.

This can be done when there is a straight stream of water traveling from your garden hoe that flows right onto the tree this is because the water will help decrease the presence of the aphids that attack the leaves and will also rinse the honeydew from the leaves.16

The good news is that wasps, lace worms, and other bugs can help control the infestation of these types of trees by eliminating aphids as well.

It’s essential to remove weeds from the area around the Rowan Tree since some weeds draw aphids. In order to prevent aphids from eating on the leaves, you can take care of your tree by applying reflective mulch around it.

Rowanberry / Red Berry Identification

With regard to Red Berry Tree identification, the berries are sour and reddish. They have a lot of vitamin C and turn orange as the winter approaches.5

Tree With Orange Berries

The flowers of the Rowan Tree have five clustered petals that bud in the late spring.

These flowers eventually into red or bright orange fruits that later fall off the leaves in the autumn.

A lot of rowan berries and its leaves

(Image: Dave Morton21)

When they turn orange, it means that they are ripe. However, the berries are too bitter, to be eaten fresh.

Despite their acidic flavor, however, they can be used for jam and are a beloved source of inspiration for animals eat them during the winter and early in the spring.2

What Do Trees Represent?

In ancient history, trees are revered and believed to be the habitations of ancestral spirits. Ancient peoples regarded trees as holy and would ask forgiveness if they needed to cut one down.

Some believe that the souls of unborn babies are in inhabited trees until they came out of the mother’s womb. Some trees like the birch had special meaning to health, safety, and wisdom for humans during their lives.17

Rowan Wood

The wood is strong, hard and tough, but not very durable. Its wood is useful to us humans.

It is a pale yellow-brown with brown heartwood.

Close up photo of Rowan Tree wood

(Image: Hietaparta22)

Sometimes it is used in turnery, furniture, craftwork, and engraving.5

Berries That Grow on Trees

The Rowan berries can be used to prevent scurvy and other illnesses and the sugars and tannins found in the berries, although the diuretic effect on the body which was used for tonics and other medicines.1

Types of Rowan Trees/ Mountain Ash Tree

The Mountain Ash family contains various different varieties. They usually fall into the Sorbus family. Sorbus is Latin for service treat or red/reddish-brown.

There are the Sorbus Acuparia, the Sorbus Domestica in the service are all of which grow in the UK.18 Sorb also refers to the berries of the Rowan Tree.

Frequently Asked Questions About the Rowan Tree

What are the Companion Plants for Growing Rowan Tree?

Some companion plants that you might want to plant around your Rowan Tree or the spindle tree, the feather read glass, as well as Japanese anemones and Monkshood flowers.15

How Much Sunlight Does Rowan Tree Need Each Day?

They need about six hours of sunlight every day, but they will be fine with a bit of light shade.10

How Long It Takes To Grow Rowan Tree?

These trees take about 10 to 20 years to fully mature, and then, they can live for around 200 years.4

How Far Apart To Plant Rowan Tree?

When you plant Rowan Trees and you want to create a wildlife habitat you typically plant the trees between one meter and five meters apart,9 because that’s the way that they would typically have their seeds sown by nature.



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19Kapa65. Pixabay. Retrieved from <>

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23Featured Image: Fall, flora, orange, and free images Photo by Julia Ly. (2023, September 21) / Unsplash License. Cropped and remixed with text, shape, and background elements. Unsplash. Retrieved January 9, 2024, from <>

24Species Information Image: Outdoors, new forest national park, rural, and countryside Photo by Annie Spratt. (2021, August 9) / Unsplash License. Cropped and remixed with text, shape, and background elements. Unsplash. Retrieved <>