Sorbus aucuparia 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Plantae Tracheophyta Magnoliopsida Rosales Rosaceae

Scientific Name: Sorbus aucuparia L.
Infra-specific Taxa Assessed:
Regional Assessments:
Common Name(s):
English Rowan, Mountain ash
Crataegus aucuparia (L.) Salisb.
Mespilus aucuparia (L.) Scop.
Pyrenia aucuparia (L.) Clairv.
Pyrus aucuparia (L.) Gaertn.
Sorbus aucuparia L. var. lanuginosa (Kit.) Schur
Sorbus sibirica Hedl.
Taxonomic Source(s): The International Plant Names Index. 2012. IPNI. Available at: (Accessed: 17 June).
Taxonomic Notes: Sennikov (2016) designated a lectotype of S. aucuparia, based on material used by Linnaeus to describe S. aucuparia subsp. aucuparia.

We include here Sorbus maderensis as a subspecies of S. aucuparia that is endemic to Madeira.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2017
Date Assessed: 2017-03-02
Assessor(s): Rivers, M.C. & Beech, E.
Reviewer(s): Rich, T.C.G.
Sorbus aucuparia is a tree or shrub found across Europe, North Africa, central and northern Asia into northern China. It is here assessed as Least Concern as it has an extensive distribution and a large population size. It is impacted by browsing by ungulates, and southern populations may be a risk from climate change.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:Sorbus aucuparia is found across most of Europe, North Africa, central and northern Asia into northern China (Kurtto 2009, Raspé et al. 2000). It grows between 0 and 2,000 m asl (Raspé et al. 2000).
Countries occurrence:
Albania; Andorra; Armenia; Austria; Azerbaijan; Belgium; Bosnia and Herzegovina; Bulgaria; Croatia; Czech Republic; Denmark; Estonia; Finland; France (Corsica, France (mainland)); Germany; Greece (Greece (mainland)); Hungary; Iceland; Ireland; Italy (Italy (mainland), Sicilia); Korea, Democratic People's Republic of; Korea, Republic of; Latvia; Liechtenstein; Lithuania; Luxembourg; Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of; Monaco; Mongolia; Montenegro; Netherlands; Norway; Poland; Portugal (Madeira, Portugal (mainland)); Romania; Russian Federation (European Russia, Kaliningrad, North European Russia); Serbia (Kosovo, Serbia); Slovakia; Slovenia; Spain (Spain (mainland)); Sweden; Switzerland; United Kingdom (Great Britain, Northern Ireland)
Additional data:
Upper elevation limit (metres):2000
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:It is the most frequent European Sorbus species. It will have a population size far exceeding the threshold for a threatened conservation rating (10,000 mature individuals).
Current Population Trend:Unknown
Additional data:

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:Rarely a shrub, Sorbus aucuparia is found as a tree to 15 m (-28 m). It is a very variable sexual diploid (2n = 34). It is limited by high summer temperatures (Raspé et al. 2000). This species tends to be scattered in woodland, often in clearings and above the treeline. It is a poor competitor and although it grows quickly in favourable conditions when young it often struggles to grow as large as other trees of the same habitat. It is often considered a weed tree of forestry as it is quick to colonise suitable habitats, such as disturbed woodland. In woodland these trees are found as single stems, whereas in more exposed situations it is found as multi-trunked trees. It is particularly characteristic of light, acid, sandy and peaty soils but is also found on shallow soils over limestone and on limestone cliffs (McAllister 2005).

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: The wood of this species is used to make handles and furniture. The fruits are high in vitamin C and have been used to treat scurvy. Jams and juice can be made from the berries. It is also grown ornamentally. The tree was thought to have magical properties offering protection against spirits (Räty et al. 2016).

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Browsing by ungulates often causes multi-stemmed trees or complete loss of Sorbus aucuparia from the tree layer. The range of this species has been expanding north due to climate change and it is expected that the southern edge of this species range will move to higher altitudes (Räty et al. 2016) where possible.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: This species is listed as Least Concern in Switzerland (Moser et al. 2002) and is considered Near Threatened in Red list of the vascular flora of Hungary (Király 2007). The species certainly occurs within protected areas within its European range. No conservation actions are required, although research into the impact of climate change on southern European populations is suggested. Sorbus aucuparia is reported as held in 182 ex situ collections (BGCI 2016).

Citation: Rivers, M.C. & Beech, E. 2017. Sorbus aucuparia. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2017: e.T61957558A112304840. . Downloaded on 20 September 2018.
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