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Martin, Edwin M.
Sorbus americana Marshall
American mountain ash, American mountain-ash
Synonym(s): Pyrus americana, Pyrus microcarpa
USDA Symbol: SOAM3
American mountain-ash is a small, ornamental tree usually 15-20 ft., but reaching 30 ft. in favorable places. The tree may be reduced to a shrub in higher elevations. The crown is narrow, open and round-topped. Pinnately-compound, deciduous leaves occur on bright-red leaf stalks and turn golden-orange in the fall. The small white, flowers are held in flat-topped clusters and are followed by broad clusters of bright, coral-red berries. Small tree with spreading crown or a shrub with many stems, and with showy white flowers, and bright red berries.
Plant CharacteristicsDuration: Perennial Habit: Tree Leaf:
Green Autumn Foliage:
Red, Orange Size Class:
Bloom InformationBloom Color: White
Bloom Time: May , Jun
, WV Canada: NB
, QC Native Distribution:
Nf. to Man., s. to PA
& the Great Lakes region; also mts. to GA Native Habitat:
Cool, moist, open areas; granitic outcrops
Growing ConditionsWater Use:
Medium Light Requirement:
Sun , Part Shade , Shade Soil Moisture:
Dry , Moist CaCO3 Tolerance:
Low Soil Description:
Cool, moist, acid soils. Conditions Comments:
Mountain ash is usually short-lived due to fire blight, mildew, and borers as well as a number of other diseases and insects. In
cultivation this species does best in the northern part of its range and at high altitudes. Young stems and thin bark
need protection from winter browsers.
BenefitUse Wildlife: Berries attract birds.
Use Food: The fruits (fresh or dried) contain iron and vitamin C. They are also acidic and rich in tannins, however, and should be eaten in moderation. (Kershaw)
Warning: The seeds of this plant are reported to be poisonous, and those of its close relative Mescalbean (S. secundiflora) can be deadly. Sensitivity to a toxin varies with a personís age, weight, physical condition, and individual susceptibility. Children are most vulnerable because of their curiosity and small size. Toxicity can vary in a plant according to season, the plantís different parts, and its stage of growth; and plants can absorb toxic substances, such as herbicides, pesticides, and pollutants from the water, air, and soil.
Conspicuous Flowers: yes
PropagationDescription: Plant seed in the spring. Germination is sporadic and probably will not take place until the following spring.
Seed Collection: Clean as soon as collected.
Commercially Avail: yes
National Wetland Indicator Status
This information is derived from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers National Wetland Plant List, Version 3.1
(Lichvar, R.W. 2013. The National Wetland Plant List: 2013 wetland ratings. Phytoneuron 2013-49: 1-241). Click here
for map of regions.
From the National Organizations Directory
According to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is either on display or available from the following:
Mt. Cuba Center
- Hockessin, DE
Record Last Modified: 2007-01-01
Research By: TWC Staff