Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Wildflower Wednesday - Mountain Ash

It may not be a wildflower exactly but Mountain Ash does have beautiful flowers in May and June.

Unopened buds on a Mountain Ash
This native shrub is not an Ash at all but rather belongs to the genus Sorbus which is part of the Rose family.  I actually thought it was a tree until I looked it up and realized it is classified as a shrub.  It can grow as high as 30 feet tall and is common all over Prince Edward Island, growing in full sunlight and rich soil in forest clearings, hillsides, windbreaks and roadsides.

Classified as a shrub but as large as many of our other trees
It is at home throughout our property with several large specimens along the roadside and numerous saplings appearing in cleared areas.  In fact I find it somewhat prolific on our open property and have found saplings in the oddest spots including this hole in a birch tree.



After the blooms have faded in summer this tree begins the process of berry production and this is where most people recognize this plant.  By August the berries are visible.

In fall the white flowers have changed to fruit clusters
In early September the clusters were orange.


And now in late September they have turned to dark red.


Not only are the flowers and fruit attractive they also are an important food source for birds such as robins, bluebirds, cedar waxwings and grackles.


It makes a lovely landscape plant due to its many seasons of interest.  Flowers in spring, attractive foliage in summer, and red fruit in fall that can often be found hanging on throughout the winter.


If you would like to see more wildflowers or participate in Wildflower Wednesday please pop on over to Gail's blog, Clay and Limestone, where every fourth Wednesday of the month we celebrate the wild side of our gardens!

22 comments:

  1. I love mountain ash. We have two in our front garden and the Bohemian Waxwings go crazy for them in the heart of winter.

    Lovely photos. :)

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  2. Mountain ash is a beauty and one I wish I saw more of in my area...I will add it to my list since it is native I believe in my area of NY. If I lose a tree I will consider this one for sure. I love the pictures and the post Marguerite!!

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  3. What a gorgeous tree! Those berries are magnificent!

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  4. This is a great profile of a tree (ok, shrub) that I knew little about. It has some beautiful attributes. I can't get over that sapling growing in the crook of another tree!

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  5. I love mountain ash too, I have a British native form in my garden, but it is definitely a tree. No mistaking the leaves and berries though, it is fun watching the birds fight over them.

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  6. I think anything that tall deserves to be a called a tree personally. It is truly lovely though, with beautiful interest in the spring, in bloom, and the fall berries are gorgeous too! Do the leaves provide any fall color?

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  7. What a lovely shrub! This is one I wasn't familiar with, but I can see why the birds love it.

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  8. I didn't realize they are classified as shrubs - we have many of them around us (lots here in Ontario too!)
    Only every 4th Wednesday?? I'm sure I could come up with something EVERY Wednesday lol! More wildflowers than regular flowers, for now anyways!

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  9. The ash is one of my favourite trees this time of year. How beautiful the red/orange berries hang from the boughs, lighting up the autumn turning leaves around them. Did you know the ash branches split in lengths when hammered, providing splits for the baskets our native/original peoples make? It is a terrific tree.

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  10. Hi Marguerite, You don't often see Mountain Ash here for some reason. I didn't know that the berries were a source of food for birds. I love their color and the tree's ferny leaves.

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  11. I wish this beauty were a native in my part of the world~I love its other name Rowan, too. Thank you for sharing it and reminding me how wonderful native trees and shrubs are in a garden. gail

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  12. Beautiful - and I'm so impressed that you had photos on hand for several seasons... Thanks!

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  13. Nice that it beautiful/different in each season.

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  14. you are lucky Marguerite with large mountain ash/rowan trees, over here it is known most commonly as the Rowan and grows all over even here on nearly treeless Lewis, I have planted several and 3 more this year, last year was the first time I had flowers on the first planted 9 years ago, the berries went before I got to see them ripe, Frances

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  15. Mountain ash grows wild all over the island where I vacation in Maine. I think it is one of the best plants for ornamental berries. I have always thought of this as a tree--it has a single trunk in Maine--and the Maine Forest Service guide to Maine trees includes it.

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  16. Ms.S - I actually haven't noticed birds in our mountain ash but my local native nursery says birds eat the berries so I'm going to have to watch more closely from now on.

    Donna - I think Mountain Ash is native to most parts of North America so you should easily be able to find one for your area.

    Holley - The berries really are the draw on this tree, there's just so many of them.

    Laurrie - It's amazing how easily these trees (yes I'm calling it a tree too!) can sprout. I seem to find them everywhere and we've moved at least four to better locations but how to get it out of that birch?

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  17. Janet - I actually discovered while writing this post that there is a European version. I thought they were one and the same but the European native is classified as a tree. I've seen it here in North America where it's been cultivated to have different coloured berries in white and pink.

    Clare - The leaves do change colour to a yellow/orange but they seem to drop quickly and don't provide much of a show. The berries capture all of the attention.

    Rose - any time there's berries the birds seem to show up don't they?

    Jane - I was surprised to see the shrub status too but I really don't understand the different between tree and shrub. I agree, I have more wildflowers than garden flowers so this meme works well for me. If only I could get my act together more often to actually do a wildflower post.

    Brenda - I had no idea these were used to make baskets. The information I read actually said there was little value in the wood. That seems like a pretty valuable asset to me.

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  18. Jennifer - I love that leaf shape too. Sumac and butternut have similar leaf structure and I'm working on having all three plants in our yard.

    Gail - I've heard the name Rowan before but had no idea it referred to this plant. What a lovely sound it has, I might start calling them that now.

    Town Mouse - I've been very busy with the camera this summer but have failed miserably at posting most of my photos. Now was a good chance to go digging through and make use of all the pictures I take!

    Tufa - That large tree can be seen from our computer desk and I've been watching it from spring to fall now. It really does have great value throughout the seasons.

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  19. Frances - I've heard that these trees are one of the first species to populate cleared areas so perhaps that's why I see so many of them on our property which is so empty. They don't seem to mind the wind at all which is a great benefit.

    Carolyn - I wonder if there is a sub-species in the south? The local source I referred to actually noted there are two varieties here, showy and american. This tree also grew on the west coast when I lived there so they have a large range which might have considerable variability. It's difficult to tell in my photos but the ones on our property are all multi trunked which might contribute to their shrub status.

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  20. I have a small Mountain Ash growing in my front yard... No flowers yet though. Enjoyed your information and photos :)

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  21. What a beautiful plant! I love the way the tree (shrub) seems to glow with all those colorful berries in the fall.

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  22. I don't know Mountain Ash, what a great shrub/tree. Love those bright red berries and imagine the birds and animals are enjoying them as well!

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