As it happens to be the name I have taken for myself, I could not resist
imparting a few gleanings on the lore of the Rowan tree. I'll try not
to ramble (although after all, it IS a member of the Rose family).
The correct Latin name is Sorbus Aucuparia, and this is used
for the European Mountain Ash, called Rowan. The common name derives
from the area of Southern Scotland/Northern England, where they are
frequently found. The name refers to the red of the berries (and of
the twigs--if you look closely), and may be related to a Scandinavian
word for the colour. Another species, that of Sorbus Americana, refers
to the American Mountain Ash, which is smaller than its European cousin
and generally has berries of a more orange colour. In the fall, the
European Rowan's leaves turn red. The American one turns yellow. That's
one way to tell which you may see. Incidently, the Latin Aucuparia refers
to "lying in wait to catch birds," which makes sense, as the berries are
quite good for wildlife. I don't have my herbal near me but I do seem
to recall that the berries contain Vitamins C and A, and are therefore a
good winter preventative of scurvy. Other medicinal uses include a laxative,
astringent, douche, and against diarrhea, fever, hemorrhoids, and sore throat.
Dried berries are used to flavour liqueurs, and an ale was brewed from the
berries in ancient Wales but the recipe is considered lost. Jam may also
be made from the berries. Its bark will dye wool grey. Its wood is used
for tools and fenceposts.
I will follow this post with one relating to the cultural significances
of Rowan, if you haven't been totally bored by my rantings yet.
Elisabeth Eilir Rowan
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