mountain ash

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Mountain Ash,

Welsh Aberpennar, town (1981 pop. 26,231), Rhondda Cynon Taff, S Wales. A former mining community, it depended upon the great coal mines nearby, which were developed in the 19th cent. A pavilion was built in 1906 to house the annual Welsh arts festival, the eisteddfod.

mountain ash,

name for any species of the genus Sorbus of the family Rosaceae (roserose,
common name for some members of the Rosaceae, a large family of herbs, shrubs, and trees distributed over most of the earth, and for plants of the genus Rosa, the true roses.
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 family), hardy ornamental trees and shrubs native to the Northern Hemisphere, not related to the true ashes. They are deciduous and bear flat-topped clusters of white flowers followed by orange or brilliant red berrylike fruits, for which they are widely cultivated as ornamentals. The astringent pome fruits are often used in domestic remedies. Of native kinds, the most common is the American mountain ash (S. americana), ranging from Newfoundland to North Carolina. Introduced species are often cultivated, especially the common European mountain ash or rowan tree (S. aucuparia). This tree is one of the most revered plants in the folklore of the Old World. It warded off evil influences and was "Thor's helper"; bits of the wood were thought to avert almost any disaster. The unrelated mountain ash, Eucalyptus regnans, of Australia is a member of the myrtlemyrtle,
common name for the Myrtaceae, a family of shrubs and trees almost entirely of tropical regions, especially in America and Australia. The family is characterized by leaves (usually evergreen) containing aromatic volatile oils. Many have showy blossoms.
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 family. Mountain ash is classified in the division MagnoliophytaMagnoliophyta
, division of the plant kingdom consisting of those organisms commonly called the flowering plants, or angiosperms. The angiosperms have leaves, stems, and roots, and vascular, or conducting, tissue (xylem and phloem).
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, class Magnoliopsida, order Rosales, family Rosaceae.
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Mountain Ash

(pop culture)

In the third chapter of Dracula, while Jonathan Harker was trying to determine his situation, he asked rhetorically, “What meant the giving of the crucifix, of the garlic, of the wild rose, of the mountain rose?” The modern reader has come to know these four items as devices for protection against vampires. Mountain ash is a member of the rose family and is also known in northern Europe and the British Isles as the rowan. Bram Stoker probably knew of the traditional use of the mountain ash as protection against witchcraft, in much the same manner as hawthorn was used throughout southern Europe. A rowan tree was often planted in churchyards and at the door of homesteads as a warning against evil spirits and was sometimes pruned so it became an arch over the barn door to protect the farm animals. It was particularly effective in conjunction with a red thread, and in the Scottish highlands women often used a piece of twisted red silk around their fingers along with a necklace of rowan berries.

In Scandinavia it was also known as Thor’s Helper, a designation derived from a story in which the tree helped him escape a flood caused by the Frost Giants.


McNeil, F. Marian. Scottish Folklore and Folk Belief. Vol. 1, The Silver Bough. Glasgow: William Maclellan, 1957, 1977. 220 pp.
Porteous, Alexander. Forest Folklore, Mythology, and Romance. London: George Allen & Unwin, 1928. 319 pp.

Mulo see: Gypsies, Vampires and the

The Vampire Book, Second Edition © 2011 Visible Ink Press®. All rights reserved.

mountain ash

symbol of prudence. [Tree Symbolism: Flora Symbolica, 176]
Allusions—Cultural, Literary, Biblical, and Historical: A Thematic Dictionary. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

mountain ash

1. any of various trees of the rosaceous genus Sorbus, such as S aucuparia (European mountain ash or rowan), having clusters of small white flowers and bright red berries
2. any of several Australian eucalyptus trees, such as Eucalyptus regnans
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005