The Scottish Government is considering whether Scotland should have its own national tree, and if so, what species should be chosen.
The iconic Scots pine is an obvious choice for this accolade but there are other candidates. We’ve invited advocates for six species to give the case for their tree.
In the second of our guest blogs, writer and environmental activist Mandy Haggith explains her passion for rowan.
“I want Scotland’s national tree to be rowan, because I think it has so many characteristics that define Scotland.
First of all it’s tough. You find rowans out in the remotest corners of the land, clinging onto crags, thriving cheerfully in gullies and glens where only the hardiest plants can survive.
Secondly, it’s generous and hospitable. Its boudoir-scented white blossoms teem with bees in spring, and its abundance of berries feeds not only our native birds but visitors too. Its scientific name, Sorbus aucuparia, means fruit for catching birds and it is also called the Fowler’s Service Tree because its berries attract large flocks of Scandinavian migrating birds, especially waxwings, redwings and fieldfares.
Thirdly, its berries make a gorgeous ruby-red jelly (for my recipe, see the Handbook of Scottish Wild Harvests). Traditionally eaten with venison, it is tangy enough to use for breakfast – it’s yummier than marmalade on toast – and it is the perfect foil for turnip, making it the ideal condiment to eat with Haggis, neaps and tatties!
Finally, there is no more magical tree than rowan. All witches make their wands from rowan twigs. Across Scotland, rowans are planted close to houses to keep evil spirits away. The cross-beams of chimneys are called ‘rantrees’ in Scots because they used to be made of rowan. Twigs over doors, in stables and byres, tied into the tails and manes of livestock or attached to masts and halyards on boats, are all supposed to bring health and good fortune.
So cast a spell with a rowan stick, and cast your vote for it to be Scotland’s national tree!”
How do you feel about rowan as Scotland’s national tree? You can have your say in the public consultation until 3rd December, and please do leave a comment below.
We’ll be posting more guest blogs featuring other candidates every Friday for the next few weeks…
Rory Syme, PR and Communications Officer Woodland Trust Scotland