Mountain Ash Tree

By: C. Colston Burrell
A mountain ash tree growing by a hill side.
Mountain ash trees produce berries in a variety of colors. Michael Roberts / Getty Images

The mountain ash is actually not an ash but a member of the rose family. Sorbus aucuparia is a European native and the most widely planted of a large group of similar shrubs and trees. The native mountain ashes are just as beautiful, but most species tend to be shrubby in nature. The European mountain ash has a more distinctly treelike form.

Description of mountain ash tree: This small to medium tree (up to 50 feet tall) has light grayish bark and an oval, open head at maturity. It produces clusters of white flowers in spring followed by bright, long-lasting, orange-red berries in fall that attract birds. The deciduous leaves are toothed and pinnately compound. They are dark, dull green in summer and yellow to reddish in fall.


Growing mountain ash tree: Grow in full sun in rich, well-drained, acid soils. It is short-lived under alkaline conditions. The tree transplants well. Mountain ashes are highly susceptible to borers and fireblight, among other pests. They are best grown in the northern part of their range where cool summers are not conducive to these problems.

Uses for mountain ash tree: Mountain ash is a good small tree for home landscapes and is especially appreciated for its long-lasting berries.

Related species of mountain ash tree: The white beam mountain ash (Sorbus aria) has the same form and berries as the more common mountain ashes, but with totally different leaves. They are not compound and the undersides are covered with attractive white felt.

Related varieties of mountain ash tree: There are many selections of this tree with variously colored berries, from red to pink to yellow, weeping or upright forms, or doubly compound leaves.

Scientific name of mountain ash tree: Sorbus aucuparia


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