Today I would like to make you discover a tree that you can find in the nature around Kuterevo, and whose fruits are part of the bears’ natural food resources. This tree is called “Rowan” (in Latin: Sorbus aucuparia; in Croatian: Jarebika). You can find this tree in all northen Europe and Asia. It is very tolerant of cold and that’s why you can see it in high altitude mountains.
This tree is not always well-known by people, however it has an important place in the environment and it is part of the healthy ecosystem. Thus, the rowan is an important food resource for many birds, which in turn disperse the seeds in their droppings. Snails also feed on its leaves and deers, hares and insects larvae eat its foliage and bark.
The rowan is not only useful for animals, it is also for humans. For instance, we use its fruits to make jam and jelly and we distill them to make alcohol (rakija!). But be careful, the juice within the berries has a laxative effect when it’s not cooked 😉 We also use the rowan as an ornamental tree and we use its dense wood for carving and turning and to male tool handles and walking sticks. But even if it was not useful for human, that’s wouldn’t meant that it is not important in the nature!
Moreover, the rowan has a symbolical importance in different cultures. Thus, it was thought to be a magical tree, protecting people and livestock from witches and sorcery. It also used to be planted in churchyards to keep the dead in their graves and thus stopping ghosts from disturbing the living. In the Celtic mythology, the rowan is called “Traveller’s Tree” because it is thought that it prevents those on a journey from getting lost.