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The Tuesday tree: rowan

June 7, 2011
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I think we had our summer last Friday. This week we are stuck in the groove of mostly single-figure temperatures and grey drizzly skies again but, for one day only, it was a sunny twenty-six degrees Celsius. The powers that be clearly don’t share my opinion of athletics, as they kindly bestowed this burst of sunshine upon the school Sports Day.

At some point in the afternoon, then, we felt the need to seek some shade. Parking the boys under a tree with something to eat, I noticed that the shade was provided by a beautiful rowan (Sorbus aucuparia).

I’m pleased to see a rowan, as they remind me of the west of Scotland, where I grew up. They are extremely hardy, growing higher up the mountainsides than any other tree, and they will find a niche to thrive in wet, rocky places where nothing much else will. This one in the grounds of the school is living a very soft life. It is frothy with blossom at the moment, which the bees and other insects love.

Rowan is sometimes known as the mountain ash, but is in fact a member of the rose family, Rosaceae. Like the true ash, however, it has pairs of leaflets in perfect symmetry. You can clearly see them here silhouetted against the blue sky.

Peering out at today’s dreich grey sky, I ask myself, was it really that blue?


You can find a little more about the rowan tree in The lady of the woods and her neighbours and in The Tuesday tree: a helpful neighbour.




10 Comments leave one →
  1. maryz permalink
    June 7, 2011 6:08 pm

    I’ve never seen the flowers of a rowan tree before – just the berries. Thanks.

    Re sports: I was always glad I had girls – therefore no involvement with sports. This was a LONG time ago – they’re all in their 50s now.

    • dancingbeastie permalink*
      June 8, 2011 11:17 am

      Such gender divisions are unheard of these days, which is probably a good thing on the whole. Mind you, I was one of the few who campaigned at school to be allowed to play football (soccer) instead of lacrosse, on the understanding that it was slightly less murderous. The headmistress wouldn’t let us, as she thought football was somehow unladylike. Unlike lacrosse…?!

  2. June 7, 2011 7:20 pm

    Rowans are amongst my favourite trees too, we have three in our garden, all different.

    • dancingbeastie permalink*
      June 8, 2011 11:18 am

      Lovely. There are some very pretty cultivars, aren’t there? I like the ones with white berries on pink stems.

  3. June 7, 2011 8:18 pm

    I love rowans too – so pretty at all times of year. We have a couple in our lane here in Wales and often see them when we visit northern Scotland. The birds love them too, especially now the farmers sometimes flail their hedges in the autumn, thus removing all the hawthorn and elder berries. 😦

    • dancingbeastie permalink*
      June 8, 2011 11:21 am

      Oh dear, I do wish they wouldn’t feel the need to do that…
      Rowans are a gift for the birds. I keep meaning to join them and make some rowan jelly, but the berries ripen just as the school year gets underway with all its attendant upheaval, so the jelly hasn’t happened yet.

  4. Toffeeapple permalink
    June 8, 2011 1:58 pm

    Rowan always reminds me of my homeland – Wales – where we would call them Mountain Ash. I. too, am cross that farmers and local authorities flail hedgerows, one would expect them to know better.

    • dancingbeastie permalink*
      June 8, 2011 4:29 pm

      Most farmers, I’m sure, do know better and avoid it at crucial times of year (nesting/ harvest) if possible. I wouldn’t expect any such knowledge or thought from local authorities, however. I’d be happy to be proved wrong, mind you!

  5. June 9, 2011 6:11 am

    Another lovely tree; does the flower have a perfume? I love that you’ve captured a bird in flight in the last pic.

  6. dancingbeastie permalink*
    June 9, 2011 11:54 am

    Oh, I’m glad you noticed the bird! There were lots of pigeons about. I think the black dot near the bottom of that photo is a bee: the tree was buzzing with insects.

    Rowans do have a scent, a rather cloying, musky smell. Ordinary rowans smell fairly light, but I think that some of the cultivars smell positively obscene!

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