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The Tuesday tree: a helpful neighbour

August 24, 2010

This is the season of the Rowan tree. Their clusters of orangey-red berries light up the fields and verges at this time of year, a reminder of all that there is to look forward to with the waning of the year: ripe fruits, glowing colours and a rich harvest. Rowan berries makes a tart, scarlet jelly which is very good with venison.

At the moment the berries look striking against green leaves and blue skies. They are so abundant, though, that it takes a while for the birds to eat them and so there are always plenty left after the tree’s leaves have turned orange. The orange and scarlet together make the rowan a virtual bonfire of a tree by October, one of my favourite sights of Autumn.

As well as providing blazing colour to lift the spirits and good fruits for the store cupboard, the rowan is a useful tree to have around for more superstitious reasons. In Scotland it was long believed that a rowan planted beside a house would keep witches from the door. Since it was seen as a protector, any deliberate damage to it was considered extremely ill-omened. I can remember a gardener refusing to prune a rowan in our garden when I was a child: he was convinced it would be bad luck and cited an instance of someone he knew who had taken an axe to a rowan, against advice, and gashed his own leg. Whether or not anyone these days still really believes such things, I don’t know; trees undoubtedly have a ‘presence’, however, and I would not wish to interfere unnecessarily with the generous and beautiful rowan.

See also: the lady of the woods and her neighbours

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10 Comments leave one →
  1. August 24, 2010 5:45 pm

    I love rowans, and they seem to do the job as I haven’t seen a witch about the place at all. Sadly we lost one of our trees over the winter – surprising, as I’d have expected them to tolerate the unusual cold and long period of snow we had.

  2. August 25, 2010 11:32 am

    I like making jellies but don’t make rowan as my mother-in-law kindly supplies me but yes, it is a wonderful partner to venison. I love to see a rowan, branches heavily laden with berries, it signals that it’s nearly time to be picking brambles soon too(one jelly I do make lots of).

    • dancingbeastie permalink
      August 25, 2010 12:00 pm

      They do seem to inspire affection in us, don’t they. It does seem surprising that one should suffer from a cold winter. Such lovely Scottish trees, and a sign of autumn coming. Bramble jelly – mmm!

  3. August 25, 2010 1:49 pm

    I love Rowans too! We have three in our garden (so far!)

    • dancingbeastie permalink
      August 25, 2010 7:06 pm

      I think we have the beginnings of a Scottish Women’s Rowan appreciation club here! The Sorority of the Sorbus. Or something. Seems appropriate: according to the blurb over at Trees for Life (see link in my post ‘the lady of the woods’), in Norse mythology the first woman was created from the Rowan. I never knew that before. And it’s meant to be one of the trees that is sacred to the Goddess. Clearly not a tree to be messed with!

  4. August 26, 2010 11:36 pm

    The colours are lovely; I love the leaves, a little like a Robinia.

  5. August 27, 2010 10:22 am

    A+ would read again

Trackbacks

  1. The Tuesday tree: rowan « Dancing Beastie
  2. The Tuesday tree: my breakfast smells of elderberries! « Dancing Beastie
  3. A rowan for Tuesday and all days | Dancing Beastie

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