Did you recognize this lovely tree bursting with vivid red berries from last week’s puzzler?
It is Mountain Ash or Rowan, also called Quickbeam, Rowan Tree, Rowanberry, and, Witchwood, (Sorbus aucuparia.) It is not related to our Common Ash tree.
Rowan is a shrub that grows up to 50 feet tall, at elevations usually above 6500 feet, including in North America, Northern Europe and South Western Asia. Here in western North Carolina, you can find them along the Blue Ridge Parkway–at Black Balsam Knob, Mount Rogers, Craggy Gardens and at Pisgah. They are quite stunning when you see an entire mountainside covered with them!
Those bright red berries? They are rich in Vitamins A and C and many animals eat them, including 60 species of birds as well as some mammals including fox and squirrels. In some parts of the world, the berries are collected and made into jams and jellies that go well with wild game. When raw, the berries contain parasorbic acid which turns into sorbic acid when cooked. A frost is said to make them less bitter.
Want to see another plant that produces bright RED berries? Here’s the next puzzler.