Native to the UK, the rowan tree is the best tree you can plant to support wildlife. It's berries are so effective at attracting birds, they were used as bait in the middle ages! The tree possesses a wonderful shape and gorgeous pinnate leaves, and will provide interest all year round.
The rowan tree has many different names including Witty tree, Wayfarer’s tree and Traveller’s tree.
Druid’s used to use the bark and the berries from the tree to dye their robes for lunar ceremonies black.
The berries from the tree were often used to make alcoholic drinks including wine, spirits, ale and mead.
Rowan Trees have a long history of magical properties. They are found throughout history in many different cultures' mythology from Ancient Greece to Britain. It is very prominent in Norse mythology where it is said that the first woman was made from the rowan tree. It also had a role in saving the life of the Norse God Thor, when it bent over a fast flowing river in the underworld where Thor was being swept away so he could grab on to it and get back to shore. In Britain it has a long history in folklore of providing protection against witchcraft and enchantment. One of the reasons for this could be due to the bright red berries that the tree produces in autumn. The colour red was seen as the best colour for protecting against enchantment so this could have easily added to its reputation. It also was said to protect any dwelling that it grew by and people would carry parts of the tree as protection from enchantment as well as being used to protect cows and dairy produce. What are the advantages and benefits of growing rowan trees? There are many different advantages to growing rowan trees. For one thing they are a great source of food for wildlife. Chaffinches, Siskins and Blackbirds are all fans of the tree. In fact Fieldfares and Redwings will plan their migration to the UK from Scandinavia to coincide with the berry production of rowan trees. It is not only the birds that benefit from the berries humans do as well. The fruit from the tree can be cooked and made into rowan jelly. Rowan trees are also know for being healthy, easy to grow and able to tolerate a range of conditions. They are also very aesthetically pleasing as they have gorgeous fruit in summer and autumn, which is normally red but can also be other colours such as pink. This is followed by striking red foliage in autumn and pretty blossom in the spring. What to look for when buying a rowan tree Rowan trees are incredibly low maintenance and versatile. They suit both small and larger gardens and are tolerant to a wide range of conditions. They are known for their disease resistance and will also thrive in urban areas. When deciding which variety to buy there a few things to consider. Firstly the size you want your tree to grow to. There are quite a few different varieties ranging in size and vigour so it is important to choose one that will fit comfortably in the area you want to grow it. The colour of the berries and blossom on the tree is also something you may wish to consider. The rowan tree is famous for its beautiful red berries. However, there are actually a wide range of colours to choose from including white, pink, red, orange and even yellow. Finally, a lot of the trees have an excellent autumn colour so you might want to consider that as well when deciding on which to tree to grow. Are there different types of rowan tree? Rowan trees are part of the genus Sorbus. This is a collection of over a hundred different varieties of deciduous tree which can be found all over the northern hemisphere. They have a range of different leaf shapes and berry colours including pink, yellow and red. For more information about some of the different varieties available please click here. How easy is it to grow rowan trees? Rowan trees need very little aftercare once they have been planted and established. They may need some watering during the drier months of the year and should be fed with a general granular plant food in spring. They can also benefit from having the mulch topped up around them. They are low maintenance and do not need pruning unless it is essential. If pruning is needed it should be carried out in spring or autumn to remove dead or diseased branches and to thin out overcrowded ones. Does it matter where I place my rowan tree? Known for being hardy and versatile the rowan tree will tolerate a wide range of soil conditions. However, it prefers to be placed in moist but well drained soil with a pH between 6.5 and 7.5. It will thrive on both an exposed or sheltered site as long as it is in a sunny position. For more information about how to plant a rowan tree please click here. Are there any disadvantages to growing rowan trees? Rowan trees can be susceptible to some diseases. However, if proper steps are taken they can be treated for such problems. Fireblight is one disease that affects them. It is caused by the bacterium Erwinia amylovora and the damage it does is visible from spring until autumn. The blossom on the tree will wilt and die at flowering time. A silver white liquid might ooze from the infection during wet weather and the shoots will shrivel and die as the infection continues to spread. This is an issue that can be treated. The affected areas should be pruned back and the infected areas burned. The bark should be peeled and cut back to the healthy wood. One other common problem that these trees face is silver leaf. This is a fungal disease caused by Chondrostereum purpureum. It infects through wounds that have mainly been caused by pruning. The leaves of the tree develop a silvery sheen which is later followed by the affected branches dying. On the branches themselves if you cut across one that has been affected you may see an irregular dark stain in the centre. On the older dead branches bracket shaped fungi appear. Again this issue can be treated. The affected branches should be removed as soon as is possible and disposed of immediately to stop fungal fruiting bodies from appearing.