The Rowan tree (Sorbus aucuparia) is a deciduous small strong tree native to the Northern Hemisphere, can grow to 20’, often in poor soil. It is also a tree seen planted where land has been overworked as it is tough and dense. In Scotland this tree was mainly planted near homes for protection. Even today the Scots would not damage a Rowan tree incase their home and person would cease to be protected.
The green- grey feather like leaves ( pinnate) turn reddish in the Autumn, and are similar to that of the ash tree, though not related.
White flowers with five petals grow in May around 5-10mm and grow in clusters.
The Rowan tree berry
The berries grow to 4-8mm every third year or so, and can be orange or red; in winter the red may even darken. There is a five pointed star on the berry at the end furthest from the stalk. This pentagram shape was also the symbol of protection, and the red colour was said to be the best colour against enchantment. The berries are eaten by birds such as thrushes and waxwings.
Was once used for scurvy, and as tonics, especially when run down and in need of vitamin ‘C’.
Cough syrup from the Rowan berry is still made in some rural parts of Scotland today.
In the past the bark was used for tanning. The berries too were used for dye. Today the tree is grown in gardens, and parks for wildlife, and still used for jelly and jams. Other uses were walking sticks, diving rods, spikes in rakes, carving tool handles, and spinning wheels to name but a few.
There are many stories associated with the resilient Rowan tree, mainly in the realms of celtic folklore, and as the tree means a secret, or to whisper. We will allow the tree to keep its own counsel here!
The Rowan tree fairy
The fairy of this strong tree of power was all about protection. Protection against evil, ( in days gone by evil was thought to be the power of witches, and was feared). Protection against superstition, gave protection for the cattle, protection of the home, and for those who live in the home. The tree fairy was said to be magical in being able to promote a positive attitude. This (feminine) fairy also gave virtue and helpfulness into this world.