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Sorbus - Rowan Trees

Possessing ancient symbolisms of courage, wisdom and protection, the Sorbus genus gives its name to the rowan tree, which you may also know as the mountain ash tree.  Rowan trees are a deciduous tree variety, best known for their bright red berries which provide spectacular autumn colour. However, rowan fruits can also be orange, pink and even white making this variety incredibly versatile, not to mention stunningly beautiful!  Making an excellent tree for urban gardens, the Sorbus family thrive well in most growing conditions. This variety is particularly popular for those in search of a tree which is both long lasting and tall, as the rowan tree can reach heights of up to 15m over a 20-50 year growth period. That said, regular pruning can also maintain the height of a rowan tree if your outdoor space is on the smaller side.  We stock a broad range of rowan trees on our website. Our rowan trees span various heights and blossom foliage colours for you to explore, meaning there is a perfect tree waiting for every garden. Purchase rowan trees here at Gardeners Dream and receive free delivery on UK mainland orders. We also stock everything you need to maintain your tree and your garden as a whole on our online shop.

owan Trees: An Overview

Sorbus is a genus consisting of over 100 different species. 

Sorbus aucuparia is the official latin name, though most commonly we know this variety as the rowan tree or the mountain ash tree. 

Rowan trees have a rich history steeped in ancient folklore, particularly around the concepts of wisdom, courage, protection and good luck. It is for this reason that many find rowan trees a comforting sight, particularly when planted in front gardens. Though, their stunning foliage provides a colourful spectacle throughout the seasons. 

It’s easy to recognise rowan trees as they have a distinctive pinnate leaf structure, which is accompanied by clusters of creamy white flowers in the spring. In the autumn months the rowan buds develop brightly coloured berries which span colours such as red, orange, pink or white.

Boasting an incredible lifespan of up to 200 years, planting a rowan tree in your garden helps leave a legacy for many years to come in terms of mature trees.  Rowan trees grow well in most soil types and environments, as a tree that's native to the UK and the northern hemisphere as a whole.

Thinking of purchasing a rowan tree for your garden? Here is an overview of its suitability including privacy levels, growth rate, required soil conditions, required planting position and more to guide you.

Varieties Of Rowan Trees For Sale At Gardeners Dream

  • Sorbus aria Lutescens Tree

  • Sorbus aucuparia Asplenifolia Tree

  • Sorbus aucuparia Autumn Spire Tree

  • Sorbus aucuparia Cardinal Royal Tree

  • Sorbus aucuparia Sheerwater Seedling Tree

  • Sorbus aucuparia Tree (common rowan)

  • Sorbus cashmiriana Tree

  • Sorbus Chinese Lace Tree

  • Sorbus commixta Olympic Flame Tree

  • Sorbus Copper Kettle Tree

  • Sorbus Eastern Promise Tree

  • Sorbus hupehensis Pink Pagoda Tree

  • Sorbus hupehensis Tree

  • Sorbus Joseph Rock Tree

  • Sorbus scalaris Tree

  • Sorbus vilmorinii Pink Charm Tree

  • Sorbus vilmorinii Tree

All of the Sorbus trees we stock here at Gardeners Dream thrive in northern hemisphere climates including the UK.

It’s possible to filter out rowan trees according to berry colour and eventual height. So have a think about your colour preferences, along with the available space you can provide for your tree both when its newly planted, and for when it achieves its eventual height and width.

As always, if you need any help on selecting the perfect tree for your garden, please do drop us a message. 


  • Cottage gardens

  • Informal gardens

  • Large gardens or land plots

  • Small gardens (smaller varieties only)

  • Urban gardens

Rowan Tree Height

Over their lifespan, the tallest rowan trees can scale to heights of around 15m. Though rest assured the yearly growth rate is not excessive, meaning you can control the height of your rowan tree if desired. 

That said, where space permits, many opt for the rowan tree specifically because of its towering height. Its tall trunk and dense serrated leaflets provide shade and privacy almost all year round.

As an elegant tree variety, the rowan tree stands proud in any outdoor space. So if you are in search of a tree that will grow alongside your garden, not to mention provide food and shelter to wildlife, the rowan makes for an excellent choice.

Privacy Levels

The mountain ash (rowan) isn’t an evergreen tree, but will provide foliage from spring until autumn. When in full bloom, the dense leaf structure and clusters of creamy white flowers can provide both shade and privacy for your garden. 

That said, another aspect of gaining privacy in your garden also relates to height of any trees or hedging. Left untamed, a rowan tree can become as tall as 15 meters. So for any exposed gardens or large plots of land, the rowan tree will help keep prying eyes out of your garden between spring and autumn.

In addition, rowan trees can also be trained to become a hedge. We also stock a rowan hedge which will provide excellent autumn colour but with that added privacy you're looking for.

Growth Rate

Rowan trees offer a typical growth rate of between 1ft to 2ft per year. 

If you're wanting to keep the growth rate to a minimum, you can of course prune your tree during its dormant stage. This is usually during the winter months as during spring to autumn the buds are active with leaves, flowers or berries.

But for those who want to achieve maximum height, you can allow your rowan to keep scaling. Doing so will give you a beautiful mature tree in just a few years.

All Sorbus varieties will differ in terms of growth rate so please check the product description before buying. 

Rowan Soil Conditions

  • Loam 

  • Sand

Rowans can tolerate most soils in terms of being acid or alkaline. Though they do need well drained soil, so avoid planting in poor draining or waterlogged spots. You can always improve the soil quality by adding in some mulch or compost before planting or after pruning.

As the tree is widely planted in the UK it is perfectly happy in most conditions our weather system has to throw at it, bar freezing conditions.

Planting Season

The best time to plant bare roots rowan trees is between November and March. 

For pot grown rowan trees (as we supply here at Gardeners Dream), you can plant your rowan tree at any time. The only exception to this rule is if the ground is frozen. 

Planting Mountain Ash (Rowan Trees)

A rowan tree can be planted as a single tree or in groups of trees for a more dramatic effect. 

Choose a spot where the soil is moist yet well drained, that is either sunny position in full sun or partial shade. For example, at the back of a border.

Use a shovel to dig a square hole and remove any weed roots you come across. Churn up the soil using a fork to make the soil pliable, and plant the tree in the hole. 

Before placing any soil or compost on top, ensure the top of the roots sit at ground level. Once you’re happy with the level the hole can be filled in with compost and watered. 

Please drop us a message if you’re unsure about any part of the tree planting process before making your purchase.  

Planting Position

As a native species, Rowan trees tolerate all planting positions including north, south, east or west facing gardens.

They thrive in either full sun or partial shade and can be planted in exposed or sheltered locations. Their high tolerance is just one of the reasons why this species is widely planted in the UK.

Pruning Rowan Trees

Pruning a rowan tree can keep its height in check. As the berries of a rowan tree can get quite heavy, pruning can also support the overall structure of the tree. 

Generally, rowans only require light pruning as they fall into the RHS Pruning Group 1. 

That said, if you do need to prune your rowan then autumn until early winter is the best time to do so in terms of heavier prunes. As (unnecessary) heavy prunes of a rowan are not advised, you may wish to seek the advice of a tree surgeon if you’re new to the rowan pruning process. 

Around June, pruning to achieve a more desirable shape can be carried out. 

If removing deadwood then a rowan can pruned at any time of the year. 

After pruning a rowan, we advise adding in some well-rotted compost or manure around the base of the plant. You’ll find a range of plant support products to add nutrients into the soil on our website. 

Rowan Tree Benefits

Providing your garden with spectacular autumn colour the rowan tree adds life and interest into any outdoor space. In fact, this variety boasts some of the best colour of any deciduous tree variety.

Rowan trees are easy to grow and thrive in most soils and planting positions. It's perhaps no wonder then why this variety is so widely planted throughout the UK. This tree variety even does well in urban conditions, making it just as suitable for planting in the city as in the countryside.

With the variety also associated with much folklore, there are endless benefits to planting a rowan tree in your garden.

Here are just a few to inspire you! 

Mountain Ash Offers Endless Foliage Colours To Explore

Mountain ash (or rowan trees) offer a spectacular display of foliage and berry colours. 

Beyond green leaves and in some cases red leaves, it’s possible to find mountain ash which produces colourful berries including red, pink, orange, yellow and white berries.

Even with the typical red berries, once these are squeezed you'll see the colour turning orange. This is in addition to watching the green leaves change throughout the seasons, meaning colour is always in abundance with the Sorbus aucuparia genus.

For any garden which lacks depth of colour, mountain ash will instantly inject interest into your outdoor spaces. This is especially the case given the berries are produced in autumn, meaning your garden will still feel colourful even when your other plants have retreated. 

Likewise, if you have lots of evergreen hedging, trees, grass, shrubs or plants, adding the likes of pink, red or orange can liven up your garden. 

Bright Red Berries Are A Great Food Source For Wildlife

The colourful berries found on a rowan tree are a fantastic source of food for wildlife. 

In particular, the fruit is both soft and juicy making it easy for birds to snack on. The birds also distribute the seeds in their droppings, which can help populate the rowan tree throughout your garden in larger spaces or the local area generally. 

As the bright red berries are produced in late summer and autumn, this provides birds and insects with food when other food sources may be running low at this time of year.

If you are keen on encouraging more birds into your garden, we also stock a range of bird seedbird suet and bird feeders. For nesting we also stock a range of bird nests too. 

Caterpillars are yet another type of wildlife which also seek out the bright red berries of a rowan.

Rowan Berries Have Wide Usage Purposes Including To Make Gin! 

It’s not just wildlife that enjoys the taste of a rowan berry! That’s because when cooked, rowan berries can be used to make a wide array of delicious foods and drinks. 

We’d definitely suggest consulting proper recipes and cooking guidance for these amazing bright red berries. Though, you’ll be pleased to know that once cooked, rowan berries can be used to make the likes of jams, jellies, conserves, vinegar, ketchup and soups. 

There are even stockists of rowan berry gin! Typically juniper berries are used for gin, but over the last few years gin manufacturers (and home made gin enthusiasts) have been discovering other berries to try to make gin. Rowan berries are no exception.

P.S: If you do happen to buy one of our rowan trees, we’d love to see any foods or beverages you happen to make with the berries! Be sure to tag us in your creations on our Instagram

Creamy White Flowers Are A Haven For Pollinators 

Bees really appreciate it when we plant flowers in our garden. Given bees have struggled in recent years, providing them with as many flowers as possible is how we can all do our bit to help them, and our planet as a whole. 

The delicate creamy white flowers of the rowan tree are extremely attractive to bees. Flowering in spring, the buds are exactly what the bees are looking for as the pollinators of our world. 

Pollution Tolerant 

We often think of trees as helping against pollution by capturing carbon and storing it in their green leaves. This is one of their many benefits for any garden and our planet as a whole. 

However, it’s also the case that not every tree can tolerate being planted in urban areas such as along busy roads, where it will be exposed to lots of air pollution. 

The good news here is that the rowan tree (mountain ash) happens to be one of the best pollution tolerant trees in existence. This means it will thrive in those urban areas instead of struggling to get established or suffering with other problems. 

So whether you live in a city centre or in the countryside, rowans make for an excellent tree choice. Rowan trees grow even at high altitudes demonstrating just how versatile this tree is.

Unusual Pinnate Leaf Structure Adds Interest To Your Garden

It’s not just the amazing colours of the Sorbus genus which add vitality to your garden. 

The leaf structure of a rowan or mountain ash is known as pinnate. When you go to pick a leaf off the tree, it may appear as if you have picked around 14 leaves at once. However, the pinnate structure means this is actually one whole leaf. It is recognised by its feather-like shape and appearance.

Pinnation is an interesting term to discover in botany. But what a variation in lead structure means for your garden, is yet more visual interest in terms of shapes and textures. 

So if you're currently feeling uninspired with your current outdoor space, Sorbus is definitely one variety which will help shake things up.

This broader leaf structure also means that when in bloom, the rowan tree adds privacy to your garden too. 

Ancient Symbolisms Of Wisdom, Courage & Protection 

As a tree which has been the subject of ancient folklore for thousands of years, the rowan tree has much to offer in terms of positive symbolism for your garden and home as a whole. 

Rowan is said to protect from evil spirits, witches and fairies. Even to this day, rowans are commonly planted by front doors or gates for this very reason. At the very least, rowan trees are hung above the door for protection against spirits.

The rowan has even been praised in the likes of Norse mythology, Greek mythology and Irish mythology. J.R.R Tolkien also mentioned the rowan tree in the novel The Two Towers, making it a signature tree for the Ents. 

All of these positive and uplifting associations make the rowan tree an excellent gift idea.
Likewise, if you’ve just moved into a new home, why not plant a rowan tree in your garden as a good luck symbol? 

Whatever a rowan tree symbolises for you or your gift recipient, you can order your chosen variety right here on Gardeners Dream. 

Rowan Trees For Sale FAQs

We’ve answered some of the most common questions about rowan trees below.

Don’t see your query? Please use our contact form or drop us a message on Facebook or Instagram, and one of our team will get back to you. 

Which Sorbus Has The Best Red Berries? 

Well we don’t like to pick favourites, but the Sorbus aucuparia Tree is especially stunning!

Other rowan trees which produce red berries include Sorbus Chinese Lace TreeSorbus commixta Tree (The Japanese rowan tree), Sorbus aucuparia Asplenifolia TreeSorbus aucuparia Cardinal Royal Tree and the Sorbus Eastern Promise Tree

Psst: Is red your favourite colour? You can also browse all red plants to see our full range of crimson toned flowers. 

Can You Keep A Rowan Tree Small?

Yes, but only to some extent. It is possible to prune a rowan tree by removing deadwood. Though, caution should be applied as to when you prune a rowan along with the methods of doing so. 

While the height of a rowan tree can be reduced, heavy pruning is not advised as this variety falls under the RHS Pruning Group 1. This means only light pruning is required and heavy pruning could damage the plant. 

At Gardeners Dream, we also categorise our rowan trees by height. Our smallest height group ranges between 3-6 metres. So if excess height is a concern, we’d suggest opting for a variety with a slower growth rate. 

Alternatively, we also stock over 70 small tree varieties. Here, it’s possible to find incredibly beautiful yet small trees suitable for even the most compact of gardens or patios.

One such example is the Laurus Nobilis Patio Bay Tree which has an eventual height of only around 80cm. 

How To Reduce The Height Of A Rowan Tree

As noted, mature rowan trees can scale to as high as 12-15 meters over a 20-50 year growing span.

The height of a rowan tree may need to be reduced (pollarding) if the current height is blocking the light, or has simply got too big for your garden. Assuming your rowan does not have a tree preservation order, dead or damaged stems can be removed between late autumn to spring. 

As noted above, you must avoid heavy pruning with rowans. If in doubt, or if pruning poses a safety risk due the height consult a tree surgeon.

What Does A Rowan Tree Look Like?

All rowan trees vary slightly, mainly in terms of their berry colour, foliage colour, leaf structure and height. 

The quintessential rowan tree produces clusters of creamy white flowers in the spring and bunches of colourful berries in the autumn. 

A standout feature is the serrated leaflets which have an unusual structure. The leafs are comprised of six to eight pairs of leaflets which form one whole leaf.

The rowan tree itself is known as a tall tree and can grow to heights of up to 12 metres over a 50-year period. 

Are Rowan Tree Berries Edible?

Rowan tree berries are indeed edible and are packed full of Vitamin C. Though when raw they can have an astringent taste, and some sources also advise against eating raw rowan berries altogether. 

However, when cooked, the flavour of a rowan berry greatly improves as the parasorbic acid breaks down. Some of the uses for rowan berries include conserves, jams, jellies, vinegar, wine, soup and confectionery. Rowan berries are also said to pair excellently when eaten alongside game meats such as lamb or rabbit. 

Better still, we’ve since discovered there’s such a thing as rowan berry gin! 

What Is The Best Rowan Tree For A Small Garden?

Sorbus aucuparia is a fantastic variety for smaller gardens. Although we think of rowan trees as tall trees, it's also possible to find this variety in the form of a compact tree.

For instance, the Sorbus aucuparia Asplenifolia Tree boasts those characteristic red berries. However, it has a maximum height and spread of 5m by 3m over 20 years, which is smaller than other rowans. 

The benefits of a rowan tree is that you'll also benefit from those clusters of creamy white flowers throughout the spring too.

Always check the space you have available before purchasing and planting any tree, considering its eventual height and span and whether your intended placement would be ideal.

Can I Grow A Rowan Tree As A Hedge?

Rowans can be grown as a free standing tree or trained to become a hedge. If you are a confident gardener (and have patience!), then you may wish to give hedge training a go with a rowan. 

Conveniently, we also stock a Mountain Ash Rowan Bare Root Hedge. Supplied at heights of between 2ft-4ft, the mountain ash hedge is also capable of growing to heights of up to 15m. Though, you can expect only around 1ft-2ft of growth per year helping to keep the height manageable with pruning. 

Alternatively, we stock a wide range of other hedging types. Some of our popular hedge varieties include copper beechgreen beechcherry laurel and yew.  

What Do Rowan Trees Symbolise?

The rowan tree is wrapped up in much ancient folklore, all of which you’ll be pleased to know has very positive connotations. 

As well as being known as ‘the tree of life’, the rowan tree is thought to symbolise courage, protection and wisdom. It has been mentioned in many cultures for centuries, and continues to be thought of in terms of good luck and positivity.

This variety is also sometimes planted to ward off evil spirits or negatively. To achieve this, people plant the tree near a front door or gate. Though, where this isn't possible the twigs of a rowan also carry the same protective symbolism.

What Is The Best Tree For Excellent Autumn Colour?

The mountain ash is an elegant tree that's great for some autumn colour. The variety boasts creamy white flowers in spring, and its brightly coloured berries create a spectacular autumn display.

Rowan trees typically have bright red berries, though its berries can also be pink, orange, yellow, green or white. This means you can incorporate a bold range of tones into your autumn colour scheme for your garden.

Furthermore, not many homeowners consider autumn colour for their garden, instead putting all the focus on the spring and summer months. As a result, a garden can become a little stark looking as soon as the weather cools. But by incorporating varieties which produce colour in autumn including mountain ash, you can continue to enjoy your garden throughout the seasons.

Are Mountain Ash And Rowan Trees The Same?

Yes. There are several names for the sorbus aucuparia genus including mountain ash and rowan tree. So whether we refer to either name, we are talking about the same plant species.

You might also be interested to learn how mountain ash got its name. This is because the variety thrives at high altitudes. Therefore, the name 'mountain ash' may more sense when it comes to understanding the history of this tree

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