COVERED IN PURPLE HEATHER & CREVICES HIDING ROWAN TREES LADEN WITH RICH RED BERRIES
Connected with witchcraft from ancient times the name rowan is said to derive from the norse word runa meaning a charm. The tree was often planted ouside houses and in churchyards to ward off witches.
It’s alternative name of mountain ash is probably because it grows higher up mountain-sides than any other native tree, not infrequently clinging to a rock face after sprouting in a crevice from seed dropped by a bird.
The red rowan berries are made into a jelly that is eaten with game. Rich in vitamin C they were once made into a drink to prevent scurvy. Bird-catchers once used the berries as bait to traps to catch thrushes, red-wings and field fares.
The rowan’s strong, flexible, yellow-grey wood was once widely used for making tool handles and small carved objects, and was sometimes used instead of yew for making long-bows.
At the moment our uplands are at their most colourful with whole strertches of mountain-side cloaked in the royal purple of ling heather in full bloom, as shown here on Mangerton mountain.
The heather is named from the Anglo-Saxon meaning ‘fire’, and remembers the importance of heather as a fuel in earlier times.
The origin of its botanical name Calluna comes from a Greek word meaning ‘to brush’. Stems of heather were tied together to make brushes and brooms. Stems were also woven into baskets, and heather was used for thatching and as a bedding material.
Heather is evergreen and provides food for many wildlife. The tender young shoots are the main food of red grouse. Birds eat their ripe seed, and the flowers provide nectar from which bees much sought after honey.
These days when the ling heather flower is strongest the bell heather blossom is fading. But the bell catches the eye first because of its deeper shade of purple.