Friday, November 10, 2006

Mountain Ash

Everyone has their favorite trees, and I will admit that I have been heavily influenced by my mother on this subject. Mom was an avid gardener and loved trees that had colorful flowers or berries. The mountain ash was one of her favorites. She grew a large one in a garden off her deck and it provided an 'umbrella' that shaded the beautiful garden below it. The mountain ash is also the official 'tree' of the college I attended. My parents also attended this college, and now Brandon is enrolled there. In honor of this beautiful tree, the college yearbook is named the "Mountain Ash". It seems that there are many emotional triggers for me, causing me to place high value on this type of tree!

One of the first trees we planted at our home was a mountain ash. It's had nearly 20 years to grow and is doing well, although it's decided to grow with a side ward slant rather than straight and tall. Each autumn it's berries are abundant in clusters of orange. These berries attract birds of many kinds and we especially enjoy having the cedar wax-wings visit and feast on their migratory route. The berries also attract boys! Over the years they have been used for games of war (becoming bullets in homemade blow guns) or weapons for throwing in clusters at brother as he takes his turn on the lawn mower. Many times I've looked out the front window to see the riding lawnmower cutting strange patterns in the lawn as the driver was dodging berries thrown by Dad or sibling. It's interesting how something as simple as a tree can create so many word pictures and memories of events in the past.

Here's an explanation of this tree from the Columbia University Press Encyclopedia:

Mountain Ash, name for any species of the genus Sorbus of the family Rosaceae (rose family), hardy ornamental trees and shrubs native to the Northern Hemisphere, not related to the true ashes. They are deciduous and bear flat-topped clusters of white flowers followed by orange or brilliant red berrylike fruits, for which they are widely cultivated as ornamentals. The astringent pom fruits are often used in domestic remedies. Of native kinds, the most common is the American mountain ash (S. americana), ranging from Newfoundland to North Carolina. Introduced species are often cultivated, especially the common European mountain ash or rowan tree (S. aucuparia). This tree is one of the most revered plants in the folklore of the Old World. It warded off evil influences and was “Thor's helper”; bits of the wood were thought to avert almost any disaster. Mountain ash is classified in the division Magnoliophyta, class Magnoliopsida, order Rosales, family Rosaceae. 

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous10:32 PM

    Hey, that's interesting. We have lots of those trees around here. I really like their vibrant orange berries too.


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