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American MountainashSorbus americana

  • American Mountainash - Sorbus americana
  • American Mountainash - Sorbus americana
  • American Mountainash - Sorbus americana
  • American Mountainash - Sorbus americana
  • American Mountainash - Sorbus americana
This small native tree's dark green leaves turn yellow, orange and reddish-purple in the fall. Showy white spring flowers are followed by large clusters of flame-red, berry-like fruit loved by birds. Likes acidic soil with good drainage, full sun to light shade. Grows to 10'–30'.

Hardiness Zones

The american mountainash can be expected to grow in Hardiness Zones 2–5. View Map

Tree Type

Mature Size

The American mountainash grows to a height of 10–30' and a spread of around 15' at maturity.

Growth Speed Slow Growth Rate

This tree grows at a slow rate, with height increases of less than 12" per year.

Sun Preference

Full sun and partial shade are best for this tree, meaning it prefers a minimum of four hours of direct, unfiltered sunlight each day.

Soil Preference

The American mountainash grows in acidic, loamy, moist, sandy, well-drained, wet and clay soils.

Attributes

This tree:
  • Produces showy white flowers that are somewhat fragrant in late spring or early summer.
  • Puts on a spectacular fall show, with foliage turning yellow, orange and reddish-purple.
  • Features leaves up to 12" long with 11-17 leaflets that are oblong or spear-shaped and 1½–4" in length.
  • Yields clusters of small, red or orange-red fruit that are berry-like and approximately 3/8" in diameter. They ripen into very showy fruit in autumn and persist into the winter.
  • Grows in an oval shape.
  • Is easy to grow and generally carefree.

Wildlife Value

This tree is an important source of food for many small birds and mammals including catbirds, thrushes and waxwings. Other wildlife attracted to the tree include butterflies, bees and larger mammals such as moose. The fruit persists through winter and has been known to intoxicate birds after it ferments in a few fall frosts.

History/Lore

The American mountainash was first cultivated in 1811. The bark was used as an anti-malarial medicine by pioneer doctors because of its close resemblance to the quinine tree.

This tree has been referred to as a variety of different names in literature: Rowantree, rowan berry, roundwood, mountain sumac, winetree, dogberry, service tree, wild ash, quickbeam, life-of-man, Indian mozemize, missey-moosey and mose-misse.