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Sorbus commixta - Chinese scarlet rowan

Chinese scarlet rowan grows over a wide range in eastern Asia, particularly in Japan and generally in mountainous areas. This very variable species was described for science by the Swedish rowan expert Theodor Hedlund. The first specimens were planted in Finland in the late 1950s but it has been commercially available only since the 1990s and is still rare, despite being both attractive and hardy.

The species varies throughout its range, growing as either a shrub or a tree up to about 10m, with erect branches. The buds are somewhat sticky and the leaflets of the compound leaves are long-pointed and double-toothed. Both leaves and flowers of this species are usually larger than those of the native rowan (S. aucuparia).

Another difference from the native species is in the autumn colour, which is a magnificent burst of scarlet or glowing wine-red on the Chinese rowan. Mustila provides a good opportunity to compare the habit and autumn colour of trees of various provenances, with specimens from Sachalin, Hokkaido and central Korea. They are all growing well but the variations between them are large.