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Sorbus poteriifolia

September 20, 2022
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Sorbus poteriifolia

If you are looking for an unusual, slow-growing, truly dwarf berrying shrub, Sorbus poteriifolia could be a first-rate addition to your autumn rock garden. It is even more diminutive than the much more commonly seenĀ Sorbus reducta. While the latter bears pinkish-red berries on spreading shoots 20-30 cm high, those of S. poteriifolia are glistening pure white on slow-growing clumps that never exceed 10 cm. I have clumps twenty years old that are still less than 40 cm across.

Sorbus poterifolia

Sorbus poteriifolia

The clusters of flowers of S. poteriifolia are unremarkable, resembling those of the tree species and cultivars which you may know. It is the fruits and the autumn colour that we grow it for. The berries are c. 10mm diameter at maturity, enlarging as they ripen.

The habitat of this precious little rowan is in the altitudinal range from 3000-4000m in the mountains of Northern Myanmar (Burma) and adjacent China. It grows on rocky slopes and as an understory in open shrubby woodland.


Sorbus poteriifolia is an easy plant to grow in sun or part shade. Soil drainage is not as critical as for many alpines, and it is not fussy about soil pH.


I grew my original plants from seed extracted from fruit begged from an exhibitor at an AGS autumn show. Crush the fruits in a fine sieve and remove as much of the pulp as possible. Then wash the seed in the sieve in gently running water for an hour or two to remove germination inhibitors. Dry the washed seed on a kitchen towel. Either sow immediately (September-October) or keep in a refrigerator until required. Fresh seed sown in the autumn will probably germinate the following spring, or perhaps the year after. Prick the seedlings out when they are large enough to handle. They should flower within 2-5 years.

An alternative, which is of course much quicker if you have access to a plant, is to take rooted pieces off from the edge of a clump. Pot them and keep them shaded and watered until they are clearly well established.

Author: John Good

John Good