Montreal In The Fall 12

More of the Fall Foliage Walk available in the Autumn at Montreal’s famed Arboretum, a Natural part of the Montreal Botanical Garden.

Be sure to check in at the Tree House in the Garden or get a map online, as there are NO paths in the Arboretum. Don’t get lost!

Station 4: Mountain ashes

Most people do not know the mountain ash by name, but they are always struck by its beautiful berries and graceful foliage and form.

After the magnificent oaks these are flamboyant mountain ashes (Sorbus spp.) with their clusters of vivid orangeish-red fruit. They make exceptional ornamental trees, and provide plentiful sources of food for birds, especially songbirds!

Their Rowan berries have long been used to make jellies and they are high in Vitamin C; they must always be used cooked and would be naturally bitter, otherwise. About every 3 years, there is often a bumper-crop.

Like apples and quince, Rowans are members of the Rose Family, botanically. And, they can grow to elevations of 6,000 feet.

As I said, most varieties produce bitter berries, but the European wild Rowan berry (Sorbus aucuparia), which is a refined European species from Czechoslovakia, lacks some of the bitterness and some people eat those berries raw.

The Rowan berries become sweeter after the first cold fall nights, and remain on the Mountain Ash tree all winter long, as a beautiful silhouette. If you want to gather and clean Rowan berries near your home, then you can freeze them for 2-3 days to sweeten them slightly, too.

If you make a Rowan Berry jelly, make sure to add 1 Tablespoon of the BEST alcoholic beverage e.g. Cointreau, a good whiskey or a good gin per half liter of jelly. You can ameliorate their flavor with a little apple or quince in the jelly, too, if desired. The jelly is usually eaten with roasted meats and game.

See if you can find Rowan berry jelly as an artisanal food in Montreal’s specialty markets.

The berries can also be dried and then made into teas, which are very good for people’s vocal chords.

The Arboretum collection of Mountain Ash trees includes many species and cultivars that produce similar fruit, despite their botanical differences. Some European species have simple leaves, unlike North American mountain ashes, which have compound, feathery leaves.

Although these trees are quite cold tolerant, mountain ashes are not particularly hardy trees.

They are subject to many plant diseases, the most common being bacterial blight, which propagates rapidly and causes the leaves to wilt. So, botanists suggest that you not plant mountain ashes near your fruit trees, for they can become sources of infestation. Often, mountain ashes are seen as street trees. Enjoy their yellow-red foliage on your autumn walk!

Finding Mountain Ash near your home:
Maps for various Sorbus species

Rowan berries

Larches: Larch Walk Montreal Botanical Garden

Maples: Maple Walk – Montreal Arboretum

Oaks: Montreal Oak Leaf Walk

Montreal Botanical Garden – get a map online, too.

Montreal Archive

©2010 mystic at Travel Vacation Review

Leave a Reply