The European species of rowan (Sorbus aucuparia) is said to ward off witches because it is the tree on which the Devil hung his mother. How sad, I hadn't realized he had done that. The wood is also traditionally used to make druid staffs. As I write this I remember that I also had an American rowan at the corner of my block when we lived in west Chelsea in the 1990s. Hmmm. What can it all mean?
I also remember once doing a story on a very attractive, very fancy lady in Scotland for House & Garden. The photographer and I saw a beautiful rowan tree covered in berries near her castle and we asked if she would stand under it for a portrait for the shoot. She emphatically refused saying, "Absolutely not! My stepchildren already think I'm a witch so there's no way I'm going to be pictured standing under a rowan!" Don't you just love Europeans? Seems to me that this would have been valuable pictorial proof that indeed she was not a witch otherwise she couldn't have gone near it.
I love learning common plant names and rowans have them in spades. Such a amount of nicknames usually signifies an important and useful plant that has captured the human imagination over the centuries. Here they are:
Delight of the eye, Quickbane, Quickbeam, Quicken, Quickenbeam, Ran tree, Roan tree, Roden-quicken, Roden-quicken-royan, Round wood, Round tree, Royne tree, Rune tree, Sorb apple, Thor's helper, Whispering tree, Whitty, Wicken-tree, Wiggin, Wiggy, Wiky, Witch wood, Witchbane, Witchen, Witchen and finally Wittern tree.
We've been having a lot of snow in NYC this winter. It's always beautiful, that is if it doesn't hang around on the ground for more than a day or two. Folklore says that a heavy crop of rowan berries is supposed to forecast a hard winter by the way... Well I guess I'll just put on another Kate Bush cd and get back to writing.