growing and care

growing and care

Rowan is another native colonizing tree in Ireland, and around the world, but as the Birch tends to expand or encourage woodland growth on lowlands, Rowan tends to propagate itself upland, as if it it trying to resist a forest growing around it. If other trees grow close to it, the Rowan growth slows rapidly and its life may be short.

Rarely is Rowan grown as a crop tree, but are often planted around plantations of monoculture and near monoculture evergreen forests to soften the appearance of these crude modern forests.

preferred soil conditions

Rowan trees prefer the acidy peaty bog kind of soils but do not like to be surrounded by too much still water. Their preferred conditions may be what drives them up to grow in high places.

For your own cultivation do not be too concerned about creating a peaty environment. You will still get good growing results from soils that are balanced and towards acidy.

Rowan trees are very hardy and can take quite a lot of severe wind and cold. It is very difficult to kill a Rowan tree once it is a couple of years old and beyond. Rowans seem to enjoy a hard winter.

preferred light, shade and water conditions

As I have indicated so far Rowan enjoys its light and space. Used as a border tree around a dense forest or along walls Rowan trees will be happy to enjoy some of the days's light and sun..


Rowan's buds form very slowly through winter, and then fairly rapidly after mid February. The buds burst into bright rich green leaves through April.


Very fragrant blossoms open in clusters around mid May and gift one of the most attractive blossoms and pollen for bees and many other pollinating insects. Unfortunately, deer like to eat these blossoms too, and their consumption does effect growth of the Rowan tree.

fruit and seeds

Surprisingly, berries do not form on a Rowan tree until it is at least 15 years old, even though it blossoms from about 2 or 3 years old. When the blossom does turns to berries, this is usually during August.

Birds like to eat the berries and this is how the Rowan seeds spread. From bird droppings new Rowan tree plants germinate and sprout between 1 and 3 years after the seed has been dropped/

Interestingly, any berries that fall from the tree are not likely to germinate because the red pigment in the berry is a germination inhibitor.


Coppicing of Rowan is very rare now. In ancient times Rowan trees were coppiced to provide extra wood to make archery bows and possibly harp frames too.

Coppicing of Rowan today is worked by a few enthusiasts. There is a slow revival of this craft. Coppiced Rowan provides useful wood to make narrow poles, such as for bean poles and faggot bunches. Overall, coppiced Rowan has the same uses as coppiced Birch, though coppicing of Rowan is often every five years than four years like with Birch.

ecosystem effects 

The main effect of Rowan is through the sowing distribution caused by seeds passing through dung. The seed distributors are mainly birds but pine martens and foxes also like to eat the Rowan berries. These berries help these mammals to store up their vitamins to nourish them well through winter.

Rowan as a symbol of Love?

Though we may see some Rowan trees within forests, they always seem to be in a state of discomfort, compared with other trees in a forest.

Compare a Rowan tree to a Birch tree, both being trees that colonize the beginnings of new forests. Its as if the Birch invites all other living things to join the party without thought of consequences from being crowded.

A Rowan is happiest as an independent tree, especially perched higher up in the landscape, so Rowan has become known as 'Mountain Ash' too. Rowan's leaves look similar Ash leaves, but close up you will discover they are different.

The Rowan seems to carry an air of independence, like a kind of a self love that it radiates to all around. Though Rowan trees have a love of freedom and independence it does not seem to radiate a command of selfishness.

Symbolically I feel Rowan rightfully seems to express a symbol of self love and passion that encourages the same strength in others. My story poem inspired by the Rowan is expressing this.

I believe human cultivation and care of Rowan must be engaged in with respect for the Rowan trees to be shine and be shined upon..

to read about the healing and nourishment qualities of Rowan, please click here