Jarząb (Sorbus kewensis)
Genus Sorbus belongs to the Rosaceae family, sub-family Pomoideae. Around 100 species occur in the Northern hemisphere, with six species of rowan growing in Poland. They are S. aucuparia, the most common of the rowans, growing in coniferous, oak and beech forests; S. intermedia, a protected species, growing in the Pomeranian region; S. torminalis, a protected species, growing in Western Poland; S. aria, occurring in the Tatra and Pieniny Mountains; S. chamaemespilus; and S. graeca, growing in the Pieniny Mountains.
Among the rowans, trees and shrubs with simple leaves, either serrated or lobed, can be encountered, as can those with pinnate compound leaves. The flowers are most often inconspicuous, clustered in corymbs. The fruits, however, which are pomes, are highly ornamental, displaying in reds, oranges, yellows, browns, and sometimes even white.
Among the rowans, trees and shrubs with simple leaves, either serrated or lobed, can be encountered, as can those with pinnate compound leaves. The flowers are most often inconspicuous, clustered in corymbs. The fruits, however, which are pomes, are highly ornamental, displaying in reds, oranges, yellows, browns and, sometimes, white, as well.
Among the 75 taxa of these plants which can be seen in the Rogów Arboretum are:
the European rowans S. aria, S. aucuparia, S. chamaemespilus, S. domestica, S. graeca, S. hybrida, S. intermedia, S. latifolia, S. obtusifolia, S. torminalis, and S. umbellata, including the Scandinavian rowans, S. rupicola and S. subsimilis;
and the alpine rowans, S. x hostii and S. mougeotii;
the North American rowans, S. americana, S. decora, S. scopulina and S. sitchensis;
from Asia Minor, the rowans S. aucuparia, S. domestica, S. torminalis and S. umbellata;
the Chinese rowans, S. alnifolia , S. koehneana, S. megalocarpa, S. scalaris, S. pohushanensis, S. poterifolia, S. pratti, S. scalaris, S. vilmorinii and S. zahlbruckneri;
the Japanese rowans, S. alnifolia, S. commixta, S. gracilis, S. serotina;
the Himalayan rowan, S. cashmiriana;
and, from North Africa, S. domestica and S. torminalis.
The fruit of some species is delicious and a variety of products are often made with it, including jams, preserves, marinades and in Poland for flavouring vodka.
Reputedly, the most delicious is the fruit of the rowans with simple leaves, such as the Swedish whitebeam and the Whitebeam. Fruit with a slight bitterness to it is best tried after freezing or, alternatively, blanching. It can also be soaked in water and vinegar for 24 hours, or infused for a few moments in hot water.
In India, the fruit of the rowan needs to have rotted before anyone will be willing to eat it.
In Poland, during times of famine, the peasants would gather the really rather bitter fruit of S. torminalis, the Wild Service Tree, dry it and then make a flour, from which they would bake bread. The people of China followed a similar course with the S. cashmiriana species, the Kashmir Rowan.