This genus includes the rowans (mountain ash) and whitebeams, and this present group consists of the rowans, technically known as the Aucuparia section. These are small, graceful trees or shrubs with attractive foliage, which in the rowans is usually pinnate, toothed or lobed and provides good autumn colour. In spring or early summer they produce dense corymbs of frothy white or pinkish flowers, which are followed by fruit varying in colour depending on the species. Many species are apomictic, i.e. self-fertile, and so seedlings are clones of the parent. For this reason there are many species, groups of which can be similar to one another.
Sorbus eburnea was collected near Kanding in the 1930s by a Swede called Harry Smith, and it was identified as a new species and named by Hugh McAllister in 2005. It is attractive in the garden in the autumn, when it has large clusters of white fruit, which are shown off particularly well because the leaves fall relatively early. As with most white-fruited rowans, the fruit last well, as birds take red ones first. But it is also lovely when just showing its foliage, with about 13 pairs of slightly glossy, deep green leaflets making up each leaf. Growth is quite slow, and it will take a very long time before it becomes more than a small tree.
||3 litre pot|
||Spring, fruit in autumn|
||sun or part shade|
||any good garden soil|