Common Shrub Species of the Northwest Forest






Terminology | Pictorial

Sorbus americana
American Mountain Ash
Rosaceae (Rose Family)

American Mountain Ash Description

General - a smooth-barked deciduous shrub or small tree up to 10 m high with a short trunk, slender, spreading branches, and a narrow, open round-topped crown; in closed canopies a longer trunk, with the lower portions branch-free; roots fibrous.

Leaves - alternate; compound with 13-17 elliptic, serrate or doubly serrate leaflets 5-10 cm long.

Flowers - numerous in showy round clusters 5-15 cm diameter; individual, 5-petaled flowers, small, 6-8 mm wide; appearing June and July.

Fruit - bright orange-red berries in clusters; ripening in August and September; the berries remain on the tree all winter.


Prefers moist habitats from borders of swamps to rocky hillsides; common in openings or in woods, scattered on uplands along edges of woods, roadsides, and under semi-open stands; grows in a stunted form on dryer soils; shade intolerant; common in eastern areas of NW Ontario's boreal forest.


The berries are favourite winter forage of birds. They are also edible by humans but too acidic to be eaten raw; can be cooked with meats or made into jellies.

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