Rowan- Sorbus aucuparia
The Rowan tree- also known as Mountain Ash, Witch Wiggin Tree, Kerin or Cuirn- is native to the UK, and likely to be found across Forest School sites in Oxfordshire.
Although the leaves have similar features to that of an Ash Tree (Fraxinus excelsior) the two are not related.
So what does a Rowan look like?
Rowan trees can grow up to 15m tall and live for as long as 200 years old. Not quite as long as other native species but enough to have lived through 8 reigning monarchs- and nearly every episode of come dine with me.
The Rowan blossom is beautiful and is in dense white clusters, the Rowan is self-fertilising with the flowers containing both male and female parts. This Rowan (like the namesake) is highly independent and self-reliant.
The Rowan Tree bears succulent scarlet fruit that is dispersed by birds- unfortunately, they cannot tell the difference between a lovely patch of fertile ground and the bonnet of your new washed car- oops!
The trunk is hard and tough and used to be used for making tools and handles. Nowadays it used for furniture, engraving and craft work. The bark is beautiful and silver and is smooth.
The Rowan Tree features heavily in witchcraft mythology. With people all over the world planting Rowan Trees outside their abodes to ward off evil spirits, witchcraft and the undead.
In Wales, Rowan Trees were planted in the grounds of cemeteries, and to cut one down was forbidden.
The Scarlet berries of the Rowan tree are significant because Red is considered the best colour for warding off evil. So people believed Rowan trees held significant power in protection against witches.
“People believed Rowan trees held significant power in protection against witches.”
The Rowan’s other uses
The wood was used to make utensils for cooking, believing that the properties of the Rowan would stop dairy products from curdling.
The wood was also used to make charms to carry around that were thought to cure, improve and ward off symptoms of Rheumatism.