Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for American Mountain-ash - Sorbus americana   Marshall
Members of Rosaceae:
Only member of Sorbus in NC.
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Section 6 » Order Rosales » Family Rosaceae
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DistributionStrictly in the Mountains, and reported from nearly all counties. A report from Montgomery County in the lower Piedmont is surely in error.

This is a species of cold climates, meaning the eastern half of Canada and the northeastern U.S., south in the Appalachians to northeastern GA.
AbundanceFrequent to common within the confines of its elevation range -- mostly above 4000 feet; quite scarce below that elevation.
HabitatThis species is primarily found in spruce-fir forests, grass or shrub bald margins, and high elevation rocky outcrops.
PhenologyBlooms in June and July, and fruits in September to October, with the red fruit persisting at times into the winter.
IdentificationThis is a small deciduous tree that grows only to about 30 feet tall. It is readily identified by its pinnately-compound leaves (13-17 leaflets); few or no other tree growing in high elevations in the state has such leaves. The flattish cluster of white flowers and especially red “berries” are very conspicuous, as well. This species, Yellow Birch (Betula alleghaniensis), and Fire Cherry (Prunus pensylvanica) occur at higher elevations in the state than any other hardwood trees (along with the very rare Betula cordifolia).
Taxonomic CommentsOften referred to as Pyrus americana, until a few decades ago.

Other Common Name(s)Usually referred to simply as Mountain-ash, or incorrectly as Mountain Ash (as it is not an ash [Fraxinus]). Because there is a corresponding species in Europe, the “American” modifier is usually added. American Rowan is another name occasionally used.
State RankS3
Global RankG5
State Status
US Status
USACE-agcpFACU link
USACE-empFACU link
County Map - click on a county to view source of record.