Rowan

It’s loved by songbirds, wards off evil, but is rarely consumed by humans.

Here is the bewitching story of the brilliant red rowan:

What is Rowan?

Sorbus aucuparia is native to northern and western Europe. It’s also grown in temperate regions of North America and Asia, often at high altitudes.

Rowan is sometimes known as mountain ash, witch wiggin, keirn and cuirn. It’s often found in the wild, but also planted as an ornamental in gardens.

Rowan Fruit

Belonging to the Rosaceae family, rowan fruit are sometimes called rowan berries, even though they aren’t a true berry. Their green skin ripens from August to October, gradually turning bright orange or scarlet red.

About half an inch in diameter, the rowan is much-loved by songbirds — in fact, the word aucuparia means bird-catching. The fruit is soft and juicy, but rowans are rarely eaten fresh by humans because of the tart and bitter taste.

Sweetened with sugar, the fruit is enjoyed in preserves, syrups and liquors. Freezing removes some of the tartness, so the taste improves after the first frost. The fruit can also be frozen at home before eating or cooking.

Health Benefits

The rowan is full of vitamin C and antioxidants. Its bark, flowers and fruit have been used in traditional medicine to treat fever, infections, colds, flu and rheumatism. With high levels of sorbitol, it also has laxative properties.

Cultural Significance

The Celtic name for this tree is fid na ndruad, which means wizards’ tree. It was once widely planted in the British Isles to protect against evil, likely due to its fiery red color and the pentagram-shaped sepals on each fruit.

While the rowan is more likely to be part of a bird’s diet than ours, we can enjoy this tree for its splendid red beauty, and its storied legends.

Rose hip

Rose flowers are famous in art and romance, but rose hips have healing properties.

Without rose hips, new rose bushes couldn’t grow, and this fruit has medicinal and nutritional value. Find out how it’s grown and how to use it.

What Are Rose Hips?

Rose hips develop when wild roses drop off. Also called rose haw, this fruit is one of the most concentrated forms of vitamin C. Typically the fruit is shelled or powdered, but can also be eaten fresh. You can find it in teas and liquors as well as part of essential oils. Rose hips are tart and often used to flavor soup, jelly, jam or tea.

Interesting Fact

During World War II, rose hips collected by the British government were used to make rose hip syrup as a vitamin C substitute for citrus fruits, which were impossible to import.

Rose Hips in Herbal Medications

Rose hips are used as an herbal medicine with anti-inflammatory properties. You can buy it over-the-counter, and it may even relieve symptoms of osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

How Rose Hips Grow

Rose hips come from a perennial plant that has thorny branches that develop into pink and white flowers. They are the seeded fruit that forms after the flowers fall. The beautiful scarlet fruit is oval and becomes shrunken and wrinkled. Three or more yellow-brown seeds form inside the fruit. When planted, rose hips grow into new rose bushes after one or two winters.

Now that you know about the nutritional and medicinal qualities of this fruit, you may wish to try it for yourself. After your wild roses fall and you confirm they are safe to eat, harvest the rose hips and mix them with ice cream or yogurt . If you have a lot, make some fresh rose hip jelly.

Getting to Know the Jujube Fruit

Some say that the fragrant smell of a jujube tree can make you fall in love.

Whether or not that’s true, what we do know is that the tree bears a tantalizing bite-sized fruit that can be picked off the branches fresh or dried.

What is a Jujube?

Grown on a tree known as Ziziphus jujube, the jujube has been cultivated in southern Asia for about 4,000 years. Also called a Chinese date, it’s a small, cherry-sized fruit. It’s slightly elongated with edible skin and a hard stone in the center.

How to Eat Jujubes

The jujube fruit goes through several stages as it matures on the tree:

  • The fruit is immature when green, and won’t ripen if picked at this stage.
  • It’s edible when it’s yellowish-green — sweet and tart, with a bit of crunch.
  • The fruit is fully ripe when it’s completely red and slightly wrinkled. At this stage, it’s soft, chewy, and very sweet, like a date.
  • Left on the tree, the fruit dries naturally. Tree-dried jujubes keep indefinitely even without preservatives.

While it’s difficult to buy jujubes fresh except when grown locally, they’re sold dried in Asian specialty markets. The dried fruit is used for making jam, desserts and tea, or to top hot cereal.

As for the jujube candies that are named for the fruit? They were once made with jujube juice.

Health Benefits

In traditional Chinese medicine, the jujube treats insomnia and anxiety. It’s rich in vitamin C to boost the immune system and a good source of fibre for aiding digestion.

While the jujube tree may not make you fall in love, it does offer a delicious and nutritious bounty of fruit. Enjoy it right off the tree — yellow and crisp, red and ripe, or naturally dried.