Sorbus americana Marshall
American Mountain Ash, American Mountain-ash
Rosaceae (Rose Family)
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.
From the Image Gallery
Plant CharacteristicsDuration: Perennial
Leaf Retention: Deciduous
Fruit Type: Pome
Size Notes: Up to about 30 feet tall, often much shorter.
Autumn Foliage: yes
Fruit: Red, orange.
Bloom InformationBloom Color: White
Bloom Time: Apr , May , Jun
DistributionUSA: CT , GA , IL , MA , MD , ME , MI , MN , NC , NH , NJ , NY , PA , RI , SC , TN , VA , VT , WI , WV
Canada: NB , NL , NS , ON , PE , 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
Value to Beneficial InsectsSpecial Value to Native Bees
This information was provided by the Pollinator Program at The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation.
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
From the National Organizations DirectoryAccording to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is on display at the following locations:
Mt. Cuba Center - Hockessin, DE
BibliographyBibref 841 - Native Alternatives to Invasive Plants (2006) Burrell, C. C.
Search More Titles in Bibliography
Web ReferenceWebref 38 - Flora of North America (2019) Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, MO & Harvard University Herbaria, Cambridge, MA.
Additional resourcesUSDA: Find Sorbus americana in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Sorbus americana in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Sorbus americana
MetadataRecord Modified: 2022-10-11
Research By: TWC Staff