Posted in Environment, Gardens, Nature

Learning about Trees – the Rowan Tree

My rowan tree, photographed in July

I have written previously about my goal to be able to recognise and name trees. So I thought I would start close to home, from my driveway to be precise. My driveway was once a barren spot, fit only to park a car, but over the last few years it has become a mini wild area. And one of the residents of my ‘wild driveway’ is a rowan tree. Back in 2014 or thereabouts, I joined the Woodland Trust for the first time. I kept seeing their sign whenever I walked in one of their woods and I realised that it was thanks to The Woodland Trust that there were so many beautiful and accessible woodlands near me (and possibly near you too if you live in Britain).

My rowan tree, planted in my ‘wild driveway’

And yes, the thought of a free gift also enticed me. This free gift was a rowan tree sapling. Rowan trees, also know as the mountain ash, are slender, with silver-brown bark. They’re excellent for wildlife as they have white spring flowers and red berries in autumn. So win-win for insects and birds alike. They are deciduous so lost their leaves in winter.

The Woodland Trust says the rowan tree – which can grow to an average height of 8 to 15 metres – can live for 200 years so hopefully my tree will long outlast me, providing pollen and nectar for pollinating insects (including bees) and berry food for birds such as song thrushes and waxwings. Of course, like all trees, my rowan also absorbs carbon and purifies the air. So even my tiny driveway is doing its bit for climate change too.

And as an added extra, it looks great too!

Red berries in autumn Picture courtesy of The Woodland Trust

In the wild the rowan grows higher (1,000m) than any other tree hence its other name, the mountain ash. There’s a lot of folklore connected to the rowan – it was seen as a magical protector and planted outside houses to keep witches away.

The Woodland Trust


Interested in environmental issues, wildlife, spirituality, gardening, self-sufficiency and mini-adventures. There are two blogs, one is and the other, more recent one, is - ☺️

24 thoughts on “Learning about Trees – the Rowan Tree

    1. I’m the same. I’m hoping that if I write about each tree and take photos I might remember their names and will be able to recognise them again. Hopefully anyway! ☺


  1. They are indeed a lovely tree. You probably know they were often planted near houses in Scotland and Ireland as protection against evil spirits, the red berries supposedly being effective in this. One often sees them growing next to remote mountain bothies or ruined farmsteads in the Highlands.
    I had one in my garden for 30 years and always looked forward to its crop of berries. Strangely, last year it lost all its leaves and didn’t recover. Apparently Rowans can’t get ash-die back, but that is what it looked like – possibly some other fungal disease. I gave it a chance this year to recover, bur it didn’t, so I’ve had to cut it down and replaced it with an oak.
    The Woodland Trust are a worthy charity.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. There are a lot of myths and legends connected to rowans, they really have a fascinating history and folklore. It’s a shame about your rowan. An oak tree is a good alternative though and I’m sure the wildlife will appreciate it.

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  2. As a fellow woodland lover, I’m also keen to up my tree recognition and learn all about them. I’m getting there, but there’s a lot to learn. Your Rowan tree looks a wonderful addition to your outside space, and how lovely and bright those berries look. A couple of extras you may not yet know about your tree that you may find interesting: firstly, In myth and legend, this is believed to have saved the life of Thor, the great pagan god, when it leaned over a fast-flowing river in which he was drowning and helped him reach dry land. Also, Rowan was sacred to the druids, who used smoke from fires made from the wood to conjure spirit guides and magical spirits, and it’s said that wherever there are druidic remains there is also rowan. Just a bit of Rowan trivia I thought you might enjoy. Did you ever see that programme the Judi Dench made on trees a couple of years ago? It’s truly fascinating. πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I never knew that about Thor. I’d heard that the rowan had links to the druids but didn’t know the details. It really is a fascinating tree! πŸ™‚ I missed the programme with Judi Dench, hopefully it will be repeated.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Aha! Then you can still see it on Youtube:

        Honestly, it’s an amazing programme and a must see for any tree lover. Enjoy!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. They are a lovely tree. I love those bright orange berries. There are a couple of Cumbrian villages which have strange vampire churchyard legends. One was fought off by a man brandishing a Rowan stick!

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    1. It’s native to Britain. I’m not sure what other countries it can be found in. It’s not as well-known as other trees such as the oak but it does have a long and interesting history, and is very good for wildlife. πŸ™‚

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      1. I hope so too Clare. At the new Wildlife Refuge, they have a 300-year old “Old Growth Forest” … I had never thought before or ordinary trees living that long, although the “Old Angel Oak Tree” in South Carolina is considered to be between 400-500 years old. I will send a link separately in case it goes to SPAM.

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