The Rowan Tree
In our garden for waifs and strays, you will find a wizards’ tree. Once known as ‘Fid na ndruad’, the rowan tree has been associated with witches and magic. This is probably because of its bright red berries being the right colour for fighting evil. So it is no wonder that people in Wales who once believed this superstition, would often plant a rowan tree in a churchyard for protection. But there is no evil in the garden for waifs and strays, just magic!
Rowan, or Sorbus aucuparia (its scientific name) has many uses, from its berries to its wood. The berries are rich in vitamin C and quite edible once cooked. They make wonderful jelly and jams. But be sure you are picking the correct berries.
- 1 kg Rowan berries, cleaned
- 400 ml Water,
- gelling agent (pectin)
Place the berries in a pan, add the water and cover. Heat to simmering, then cover and let it sit overnight. Strain through a cheesecloth. Follow the instructions on the gelling agent package to make the jelly with the resultant juice. Should make about 1 litre of juice.
Walking sticks are carved from the rowan trees smooth and silvery grey wood, which is strong and resilient. Spinning wheels and spindles were traditionally made and the bark was used by the Druids as a dye.
So this incredible small tree that can live to be 200 years old, can sit in our garden for as long as it likes. Whether or not it has magical powers, it is magical just looking at it. And a song was also written about it in 1822 by Lady Carolina Nairne (1766-1845) that went like this.....
Oh rowan tree, oh rowan tree,
Thoul't aye be dear to me.
Entwin'd thou art wi' mony ties,
O' hame and infancy.
Thy leaves were aye the first o spring,
Thy flowr's the simmer's pride:
There was na sic a bonnie tree,
In all the country side.
Oh rowan tree.