The American mountain ash and related species (most often the European mountain ash, Sorbus aucuparia) are also referred to as rowan trees.
Sorbus americana is a relatively small tree, reaching 12 metres (40 ft) in height. The American mountain-ash attains its largest specimens on the northern shores of Lake Huron and Lake Superior.
It resembles the European mountain-ash, Sorbus aucuparia.
- Bark: Light gray, smooth, surface scaly. Branchlets downy at first, later become smooth, brown tinged with red, lenticular, finally they become darker and the papery outer layer becomes easily separable.
- Wood: Pale brown; light, soft, close-grained but weak. Specific gravity, 0.5451; weight of cu. ft., 33.97 lbs.
- Winter buds: Dark red, acute, one-fourth to three-quarters of an inch long. Inner scales are very tomentose and enlarge with the growing shoot.
- Leaves: Alternate, compound, odd-pinnate, 6 to 10 inches (15 to 25 cm) long, with slender, grooved, dark green or red petiole. Leaflets 13 to 17, lanceolate or long oval, two to three inches long, one-half to two-thirds broad, unequally wedge-shaped or rounded at base, serrate, acuminate, sessile, the terminal one sometimes borne on a stalk half an inch long, feather-veined, midrib prominent beneath, grooved above. They come out of the bud downy, conduplicate; when full grown are smooth, dark yellow green above and paler beneath. In autumn they turn a clear yellow. Stipules leaf-like, caducous.
- Flowers: May, June, after the leaves are full grown. Perfect, white, one-eighth of an inch across, borne in flat compound cymes three or four inches across. Bracts and bractlets acute, minute, caducous.
- Calyx: Urn-shaped, hairy, five-lobed; lobes, short, acute, imbricate in bud.
- Corolla: Petals five, creamy white, orbicular, contracted into short claws, inserted on calyx, imbricate in bud.
- Stamens: Twenty to thirty, inserted on calyx tube; filaments thread-like; anthers introrse, two-celled; cells opening longitudinally.
- Pistil: Two to three carpels inserted in the bottom of the calyx tube and united into an inferior ovary. Styles two to three; stigmas capitate; ovules two in each cell.
- Fruit: Berry-like pome, globular, one-quarter of an inch across, bright red, borne in cymous clusters. Ripens in October and remains on the tree all winter. Flesh thin and sour, charged with malic acid; seeds light brown, oblong, compressed; cotyledons fleshy.
Native to eastern North America;
- Eastern Canada – New Brunswick, Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, Quebec
- Northeastern United States – Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Vermont
- North-Central United States – Illinois [n. (Ogle Co.)], Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin. Listed as endangered by the State of Illinois
- Southeastern United States – Appalachian Mountains, Georgia, Maryland, North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia
The berries of American mountain-ash are eaten by numerous species of birds and small mammals, including ruffed grouse, ptarmigans, sharp-tailed grouse, blue grouse, American robins, other thrushes, waxwings, jays, squirrels, and rodents.
American mountain-ash is a preferred browse for moose and white-tailed deer. Moose will eat foliage, twigs, and bark. Up to 80 percent of American mountain-ash stems were browsed by moose in control plots adjacent to exclosures on Isle Royale. Fishers, martens, snowshoe hares, and ruffed grouse also browse American mountain-ash.
Sorbus americana is cultivated as an ornamental tree, for use in gardens and parks. It prefers a rich moist soil and the borders of swamps, but will flourish on rocky hillsides.
- McAllister, H.A. (2005). The genus Sorbus: Mountain Ash and other Rowans. Kew Publishing.
- http://www.itis.gov/servlet/SingleRpt/SingleRpt?search%20topic=TSN&search%20value=25319&print%20version=PRT&source=to%20print ITIS Report Sorbus americana]
- "Sorbus americana". Tropicos. Missouri Botanical Garden.
- http://plants.usda.gov/java/charProfile?symbol=SOAM3 USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service
- Keeler, Harriet L. (1900). Our Native Trees and How to Identify Them. New York: Charles Scriber's Sons. pp. 136–140.
- "Sorbus americana". Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN).
- http://plants.usda.gov/java/threat?statelist=states&stateSelect=17 USDA Natural Resources Conservation Services Threatened and Endangered Species (Illinois)
- Fire Effects Information System http://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/plants/tree/sorame/all.html. Missing or empty
- Urban Forest Nursery: Tree Profile for the Red Cascade Mountain Ash . accessed 1.31.2013
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