Deciduous small tree or large shrub native to mountainous mixed woodlands in central and south China. Although the rowans are sometimes known as Mountain Ash, they are not related to ash (Fraxinus) species, but are actually in the rose family, Rosacaea, and are closely related to apples and pears etc. The Chinese Rowan makes a great garden tree, being attractive year round, low maintenance, easy to keep small, and great for wildlife. It has a rounded, bushy habit with dark green pinnate leaves turning orange with purple tints in autumn. Heads of white flowers in late Spring which are attractive to many pollinating insects. These are followed in Autumn by large clusters of striking reddish-orange berries up to 8mm across which are attractive to many bird species but may remain on the tree through the winter months.
The fruit is edible raw or cooked. Note that it is thought that the seeds may contain hydrogen cyanide. This is the ingredient that gives almonds their characteristic flavour. In small quantities, hydrogen cyanide has been shown to stimulate respiration and improve digestion, it is also claimed to be of benefit in the treatment of cancer. In excess, however, it can cause respiratory failure and even death. Unless the seed is very bitter it should be perfectly safe in reasonable quantities.
A very hardy tree, happy in sun or dappled shade but requires fairly moist fertile soils. It will give the best display of berries if planted in a sunny position with some shelter from cold winds. Eventual height: 10m (but may be kept smaller by pruning, spread 8m. Current height of stock is 2m+; plants will be cut back for freighting and will therefore assume a more shrubby habit.
PB5 Certified Organic Plant 100 – 120cm
Photo credits: berries: https://garden.org/plants/view/479475/Sorbus-wilsoniana/, tree photo: https://davisla.wordpress.com/2013/12/29/sorbus-wilsoniana/