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Mountain Ash

MOUNTAIN ASH Sorbus Americana - Rosaceae (Rose family)

Common Names: European mountain ash, American mountain ash, roundwood, round-tree, American rowan tree American servicetree, mountain sumac, dogberry, quickbeam, wild ash, winetree, witchwood, life-of- man, Indian mozemize, missey-moosey, moose-misse.

Habits: Small ornamental tree. Height 10 - 30 feet, spread to 10 feet, final spacing 15 to 20 feet. Slow growing and rather short lived in the wild. Bark is thin, gray, light colored, smooth, fragrant with horizontal elongated lenticels becoming scaly with age. Leaves are toothed and compound, alternate, 13 - 17 inches long. Leaflets are finely toothed and tapered, 2 - 4 inches long and 5 - 5 ½ inches wide without hairs. Red fall color. Small creamy white spring flowers in showy flat clusters at the tips of shoots, green in June or July when leaves are mature. Fruit is bright red clusters or berry-like fruits about 1 inch in diameter remain on the tree late into the winter. Color can range from orange to red; one or two seeds in each fruit. Fruits and inner bark have been used for medicinal purposes, berries are edible for humans but very acidic to be eaten raw, can be cooked with meats or made into jelly. Fruit ripens in August. Berries remain on the tree and are available to birds all winter.

Culture: Occurs in swamps, low woods, or moist ground from Newfoundland south along the mountains to North Carolina and to Michigan. It is most abundant in the northern portion of its range. Will grow on poor soils found mixed with broad leaf trees. Prefers fertile soil, not well adapted to warmer habitats. Zones 3 - 7. Not a good choice for the south.

Management: Relatively easy to grow but rather short-lived. Cannot survive shade. Possible problems include gypsy moth larvae damage. Propagation is done by seeding or stem cuttings. Treat seeds with Garrett Juice and cuttings with human saliva. Disbursed by birds.

Notes: Mountain ash species cross breed and specific taxonomy is sometimes difficult to determine. Fruit is used to make wines.

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