The rowans or mountain-ashes are shrubs or trees in the genus Sorbus of the rose family, Rosaceae. They are native throughout the cool temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere, with the highest species diversity in the mountains of western China and the Himalaya, where numerous apomictic microspecies occur. The name rowan was originally applied to the species Sorbus aucuparia and is also used for other species in the Sorbus subgenus Sorbus. Rowans are unrelated to the true ash trees, which belong to the genus Fraxinus, family Oleaceae, though their leaves are superficially similar. Formerly, when a wider variety of fruits were commonly eaten in Europe and North America, Sorbus was a domestically used fruit throughout these regions. It is still used in some countries, but Sorbus domestica, for example, is now all but extinct in Britain, where it was traditionally revered.
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