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Dogberry (aka Mountain Ash)

New for MUNBG: Himalayan "Dogberry" Selections

Over the next several seasons we will see an exciting selection of different dogberries being offered by the Friends of the Garden during their spring and fall fund-raising plant sales.  MUN Botanical Garden is in the process of becoming the “National Collection” for the genus Sorbus (aka mountain-ash or dogberry).  Fpr more details about the North American Plant Collections Consortium (NAPCC) program, please visit the American Public Gardens Association webpage.  Todd Boland, Research Horticulturist, MUNBG

Most Sorbus dislike hot humid weather and are prone to fireblight disease. Fortunately, these issues are not generally a problem in Newfoundland, making us one of the few areas in North America where Sorbus thrive. There are about 80 species of Sorbus. There are five species in North America, only one in Europe, with the remaining 75 or so species all hailing from the Himalayas, often growing side-by-side with Himalayan blue poppies! And to further distinguish these Himalayan species, they have white, pink or yellow berries, not orange-red! They also commonly grow as large shrubs, not trees!

MUN Botanical Garden now has about 35 species and 8 hybrids in the collection (most located in the nursery, but 16 are now in the public garden as of August 1, 2015), so we are well on our way to the goal of being a National Collection.  Meanwhile, extra seedlings from the collection have been passed along to the Friends of the Garden to pass along to the public in their plant sales. YOU have the opportunity to buy very rare and choice dogberries! Here is what is available during the fall 2015 sale:

Sorbus setschwanensis

This large shrub or small tree reaches 2-3 m and is generally multiple-stemmed and bushy. The leaves are fine-textured with small leaflets. In autumn, leaves turn from chocolate to bright red or orange. Plants bloom in June with small clusters of white flowers which become bright white berries in autumn. It is native to western Sichuan of China. We have a specimen of this growing in our Asian Garden.

Sorbus forrestii

This small, multi-stemmed tree can reach to 4 m. It is native to the forests of NW Yunnan in China. Clusters of white flowers turn into relatively large white berries in the fall. The autumn leaves turn shades of salmon-pink to orange.

Sorbus pseudovilmorinii

This large shrub or small tree can reach to 5 m. The leaves are fine-textured with small leaflets. White flowers in June develop into crimson berries that later turn white with pink flecks. Fall leaves turn brilliant scarlet. It is native from Tibet through Yunnan, Sichuan and northern Vietnam.

Sorbus munda

This species forms a rounded bush to 2 m. The white flowers develop into white berries. This dwarf “dogberry” is more shade-tolerant than the other Himalayan species so is suitable for open woodland plantings or the north side of a house. It is native to western Sichuan.

Sorbus cashmeriana

Another large shrub or small tree, this species will form a wide dome 3 to 4 m tall. The leaves are larger than many of the Himalayan species and the fall colour not quite as intense as the others. However, its flowers are pale pink, rather than white, and the white berries are huge compared to other “dogberries”, actually weighing down the branches of the plant. We have a plant of this growing in the Memorial Garden adjacent to the Shade Garden.

Sorbus randaiensis

This species is most like our native American mountain-ash or “dogberry”, however, it has glossier foliage. The white flowers develop into orange-red berries. It will form a small tree to 8 m.