Friday, 17 September 2010

Rowan (Sorbus aucuparia)

This Rowan is pictured just off the Kilchoman road, looking over Loch Gorm topwards Carnduncan.

Rowan is a fast-growing tree, characterised by its brilliant red berries at the end of summer.  It grows at a higher altitude than any other tree in the country and occurs at elevations of almost 1,000 metres in parts of the Highlands when it is frequently stunted in form.

In Scotland today, rowans are often found growing in inaccessible locations, such as cliffs, steep stream-sides and on top of large boulders. However, these are not the preferred locations for the species, but rather are the only places where it has been able to grow out of reach of herbivores such as red deer (Cervus elaphus) and sheep.
Leaves are up to 20 cm. in length, and are comprised of 9-15 leaflets, which are serrated with small teeth.

Rowan is a deciduous tree, with the new leaves appearing in April, and they turn a bright orange-red colour in autumn before being shed.
The flowers blossom after the leaves have appeared, usually in May or early June, and are creamy-white in colour. Individual flowers are about 1 cm. in diameter and they grow in dense clusters or corymbs, each containing up to 250 flowers, and measuring 8-15 cm. across. The strong, sweet scent attracts pollinating insects, including many species of flies, bees and beetles.

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