Sorry folks, but this week, there' ll be no “Article of the Week”, because I was out and have no time for a “big” article (and it was also too hot for me -.-). So today, I only want to show you a new and very interesting plant: Sorbus aucuparia L. ssp. aucuparia from the Rosaceae family. In English, this species is known as “European Mountain Ash” or “Rowan”, in German as “Eberesche” or “Vogelbeere”
S. aucpuaria - habitus
It's a tall shrub with heights between 3 and 15 metres (9,8 to 49,2 feet). The leaves are unpaired-pinnate. The leaflets are lanceolate to elliptical shaped and has a furrowed edge. They are asymmetrical at the base, which is a good character to identify this species. Their dorsal side is dark-green; the ventral side grey-green. In autumn, the leaflets change their colour into a very beautiful deep-red or golden-yellow. All leaves also have stipules.
The inflorescences are umbel-shaped racemes (it's not a real umbel!). Each raceme consists of many small, single flowers (sometimes 200 or 300 flowers per raceme!). A single flowers is radial and has five green sepals and five white petals. Like the most Rosaceae, S. aucuparia has many stamens.
S. aucuparia - leaf (note the asymmetrical base
of the leaflets)
The ripe fruits are distinctive red. The may look like berries, but in fact, it's same fruit type as in Malus domesticus Borkh. (a hard core, which is enclosed by the fleshy bottom of the flower). They are eaten by birds, which spread out the seed by their excrements. This type of spreading is called Ornithochorie. They are not toxic, but uneatable, very sour and can cause a laxative effect, because of the high content of sorbic acid. Anyway, the fruits of some garden forms are edible and used to make jam.
S. aucuparia - inflorescences (unfortunately faded)
S. aucuparia is native to Europe and Western Asia. It is a very popular garden and park tree but grows also for example on ruderal wastelands (I found this at the same old, abandoned train tracks, I've found Robinia pseudoacacia L) It's a very flexible plant, that can grow on almost every soil (acid, alkaline, nitrogen-rich, nitrogen-poor and so on).
The Rowan plays also a big role in mythology. For example, this species was the holy tree of the god Thor.
Hmm, this “Plant of the Day” Article has become very extensive, hasn't it? So I think, it was a good excuse for the failed “Article of the Week” :D