Redhill Garden - Sorbus Sunset - Sept 2011 - Joseph Rock

Is it just me or does this look like a very large caterpillar laying eggs as it moves up the branch.

I thought it was.

We know it better as a Rowan or Mountain Ash tree which I encouraged the wife to buy as its berries are very attractive to Waxwings. These beautiful birds visit the eastern side of the UK but are yet to make an appearance in our garden so hopefully this bush complete with juicy cream to orange berries will attract them in if any fly over in the years to come.

Beneath the bush we have tiger grass growing and with the sun setting behind it i thought it made a beautiful composition.

An excellent variety, Joseph Rock has smaller, lighter coloured leaves than most other Rowans, giving the tree a more open look.

The flowers come in plain clumps of creamy white.

This tree really stands out in autumn, when its leaves take turns to flush with reds, coppers and purple-brown tones.

Amongst the leaves are the maturing fruit, which are much showier than the flowers that produced them. They change from milky yellow to a rich amber colour and continue to decorate the tree well after the last leaves have fallen.

We reckon that this is one of the best ornamental trees to bear orange-yellow fruit.


Although there is some uncertainty about its origins, it is probably one form of the variable species Sorbus rehderiana, taken from the mountainous forests of the Chinese province of Yunnan in the 1930's (because of its pinnate leaf stucture, it often is classed as an aucuparia).

Joseph Rock was an Austrian explorer, though made his home in Hawaii when he wasn't exploring China, and spent over 25 years recording and studying Chinese plants, geography and language.

Sorbus Joseph Rock will only reach about 9 metres, 30 feet high, with an upright growth habit.

Being small, fully hardy and tolerant of pollution, this is an ideal tree for a small garden, either in the city or an exposed inland area.

Planting Sorbus Joseph Rock


Sorbus aucuparia Joseph Rock will be happy in any well drained, acidic soil type.

It doesn't like chalk or more than partial shade.

We recommend it mulching it well in late spring and, if your soil is a bit dry, giving it a weekly soaking in a very hot summer.

  • Gary from Newfoundland II 4y

    Definitely caterpillar-ish. Or perhaps a lobster tail that has gone off a bit. Either which way, it's a fascinating mix of colours!
    Nicely done, my friend. Enjoy your weekend. Thanksgiving weekend in Canada.

    Seen on your photo stream. (?)
  • Gareth Williams 4y

    Have a good one Gary and yes, I agree with you about the lobster. I may have to change my description now. Thanks mate.
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Taken on October 1, 2011
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