Unusual & Old Fashioned Fruit Trees


Rowan Or Mountain Ash Sorbus Aucuparia

In years gone by people lived off the land and were use used to gathering what fruit they could from the hedgerows. Today people still occasionally pick Blackberries from hedges down the sides of fields and little else, but there are many other naturally occurring berries, fruit and nuts that can be eaten that have long been forgotten.  Some fruits were eaten as they were picked, but many were prepared so that they could be used in the diet of the peasants even though straight from the tree they were not very palatable and Rowan berries are a case in point.

The berries of the Rowan are not pleasant to eat and have astringent properties. As such they were sometimes used in olden days to treat mild cases of diarrhoea, but too many can cause constipation. Rowan berries can be boiled up and quite safely used to make a jelly or jam. Rowan jelly used to be a firm favourite of country housewives in earlier times, but has been almost completely forgotten and is very rarely made by anybody these days.

The native Rowan is a smallish tree that has highly perfumed clusters of small white flowers followed by numerous bright red berries hanging in small clumps and as such makes a splendid decorative tree for gardens. Rowans are also frequently seen in towns and in parks where blackbirds in particular can be seen gorging themselves on their berries as Winter arrives.

Several varieties of Rowans can be bought these days from tree nurseries including a yellow berried one, and a close relative, the white berried Sorbus Hupehensis is sometimes seen. Another close relative is the Service Tree or Sorbus Torminallis.

Trees take water and minerals from the soil often exuding unwanted toxins in their fruit as a means of deterring animals from eating too much of it and thereby ensuring a wider dispersal of the seeds in the fruit. It is well known that Almond nuts can contain small trace quantities of Cyanide if the trees are grown in unsuitable soil. Other trees such as the Rowan store unwanted chemicals in their timber making it slightly toxic and therefore not the best of timber to put through the garden shredder when trees are pruned.

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