One of the most striking of the Autumn trees has to be the Rowan Tree. Also called the Mountain Ash, this species is actually not a relative of the common ash at all. The leaves do look similar, but the Rowan’s has spiky edges.
You can identify the rowan in Autumn because it’s leaves are turning bright red and orange and it will probably be covered in clusters of bright red berries.
The berries contain the seeds of the Rowan. They want to be seen by any passing creatures, particularly those that can see colour. For these species (which include us) red is possibly the most eye catching, so the Rowan uses the colour red for it’s berries. An animal then eats the berries, travels to a new location and excretes the seeds in a pile of natural fertiliser!
But bright colours in the Natural Kingdom can also be a warning of poison. So are the Rowan berries poisonous? The answer is no…and yes. Care should be taken when foraging for these berries. The can be made into things but time of year and age of the tree should be taken into account. Birds will gobble them down by the beak-full and although raw berries are unpleasant to eat, there are recipes you can find for Home Made Rowan Berry Marmalade!
Just make sure if you do go out collecting that you only take what you need and leave plenty for the birds, they will as many berries as they can find come winter!
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