Rowan (Sorbus) is a genus of deciduous trees or shrubs of the Rosaceae family. Fruits are 2-5-celled, spherical, resembling a small red apple with small seeds.
About 50 (according to other sources, about 100) species distributed in the temperate zone of the Northern Hemisphere. The most important is the common mountain ash (sorbus aucuparia) - a tree or shrub with a smooth gray bark. Its leaves are odd-pinnate, the flowers are white, the fruits are globular, red, serve as food for birds.
Species with simple whole or lobed leaves are often isolated into independent genera. The black chokeberry (native to North America), which is widespread in the culture, is usually referred to a special genus of chokeberry. Propagated by seeds (species of mountain ash), cuttings (high-quality mountain ash), grafting with a dormant bud or cuttings.
There are many varieties of mountain ash in nature. More precisely, about 190, with a third of them growing on the territory of the former Soviet Union. Rowan is also quite common in Europe, Asia and North America. The most famous is Sorbus aucuparia or common mountain ash, which grows wildly in forests and gardens throughout the European part of Russia. In the southern regions of the country, the Crimean large-fruited mountain ash (Sorbus domestica) is bred, whose pear-shaped fruits contain almost twice as much sugar as the fruits of mountain ash, and reach a size of 3.5 centimeters in diameter.
For a long time, mountain ash was endowed with magical properties. She played an important role in the magical acts and beliefs of the ancient Celts, Scandinavians and Slavs. Once upon a time it was believed that crosses sewn to clothes from rowan twigs, tied with red thread, protect from witchcraft and the evil eye and provide assistance during military battles. Bunches of mountain ash were hung at the entrance to dwellings and corrals for livestock, it was customary to cover the shoes of newlyweds with rowan leaves, and it was mountain ash groves that grew in the sacred places of the ancient gods. Perhaps such a special attitude towards mountain ash was caused by the unusual shape of the bottom side of the mountain ash berry - the shape of an equilateral five-pointed star, considered in ancient pagan cults as a powerful symbol of protection.
Rowan is bitter. Only until the first frost. After them, the sorbic acid glycoside, unpleasant for the taste, is destroyed, and the fruits cease to taste bitter. Some varieties of mountain ash, for example, Nevezhinsky, have a sweetish taste even before cold weather.
Rowan fruits are red. In fact, among the various types of mountain ash, you can find trees with scarlet, pink, orange (mixed mountain ash), cream (Wilmore mountain ash), yellow (Joseph Rock mountain ash), white (cashmere mountain ash) and brown fruits. Especially often, such a variety of colors is found among narrow-leaved decorative mountain ash.
Rowan is contraindicated in pregnancy. And also when feeding infants with mother's milk. It is not recommended to use mountain ash and people over 45 years old.
Among the varieties of mountain ash, the chokeberry is found. In fact, this is not entirely true, since the "chokeberry" is a special variety of chokeberry (Aronia melanocarpa) bred by Michurin, which differs from mountain ash in its set of chromosomes.
Many different dishes can be prepared from rowan fruits. Jam, jam, marshmallow, marmalade, jelly, jelly, tincture, liqueur, syrup, kvass, vinegar, coffee and tea surrogates - this is not a complete list of what can be prepared using rowan fruits. Among other things, the latter are also consumed fresh, soaked and pickled. The powder obtained from dried rowan berries can be used as a filling for pies.
Rowan fruits have an antiseptic effect. More precisely, sorbic acid contained in rowan berries is endowed with this effect. In addition, rowan fruits contain about 8 percent of sugars, a variety of trace elements, organic acids and vitamins, among which ascorbic acid should be highlighted.
Rowan fruits are used in folk medicine. As a hemostatic, diaphoretic, diuretic - fruits, flowers and leaves, choleretic, antiscorbutic (decoction of leaves and fruits), laxative and multivitamin (fruit decoction) means. Unripe mountain ash has an anti-bear effect (it is enough to eat about 50 fruits). Fresh leaves of this plant are used as an antifungal agent (grind and apply to the affected areas for about a day). Rowan infusions are also useful for heavy menstruation (2 tablespoons of berries for half a liter of boiling water). Vitamin drink with dry rowan berries improves complexion.
For the winter, you can harvest both fresh and dried mountain ash. In the first case, the berries (without tearing them off the stalks) are blanched for five minutes, placed in sterile jars and poured with boiling apple juice or well washed and dried are placed in the freezer, in the second, the berries are dried in the air or in an open oven.
Rowan leaves are capable of transforming "dead" water into "living" water. It is known that in ancient times, Russian explorers insisted on stagnant and even swamp water on rowan leaves. With the help of natural phytoncides, rowan leaves disinfected poor quality water, and after two hours it was already possible to drink it.
Rowan is a low-value fruit tree. In fact, this is generally accepted because of the widespread and rather mediocre quality of rowan fruits. It is often planted as an ornamental tree.
Mountain ash wood is used for construction work. In ancient times, spindles, runes and staves were made from strong and resilient rowan wood.
Rowan grows well in any soil. However, the most suitable for it is light and fertile land with good drainage. Rowan is not afraid of cold and wind, prefers sunny or, in extreme cases, partial shade places.