Attract Birds and More With a Mountain Ash Tree

Mountain ash trees are gorgeous, but offer much more than looks. Discover the berries and blooms that make the trees attractive to wildlife.

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Why Grow a Mountain Ash Tree?

You get the best of both worlds when it comes to mountain ash. It’s a beautiful tree and its berries attract tons of wildlife, from birds to pollinators. This native tree changes with the seasons, offering something new and exciting every few months.

Check out the top 10 trees and shrubs with berries for birds.

How to Grow Mountain Ash Trees

  • Mountain Ash
  • Sorbus spp.
  • Perennial in Zones 2 to 7
  • Full sun or part shade

Planting a mountain ash tree in an appropriate site is key to the health of the tree. Choose a spot with acidic, sandy and moist soil. Follow these steps to plant a new tree.

Mountain ash is susceptible to some diseases, such as scab (a fungal disease) or fireblight. Prune out infected branches to slow and manage the spread of disease. Be sure to clean and disinfect your tools between pruning.

Psst—we found 15 trees you should never grow in your yard.

Why Wildlife Love Mountain Ash Trees

mountain ashCourtesy Cheryl Andrist
White flowers attract bees

These trees are a wildlife magnet. The fruit attracts cedar waxwings, robins, gray catbirds, thrashers, eastern bluebirds and at least a dozen other berry-loving bird species.

When the berries are not available, the trees appeal to other wildlife, too. Pollinators like bees and butterflies are drawn into its flowers. Watch for them on the white blooms in spring.

Also, keep an eye out for caterpillars. Mountain ash is a host plant for eastern tiger swallowtails. You might be able to see adults laying eggs, caterpillars nibbling the leaves, or even a cocoon.

Discover the top 10 butterfly host plants to attract pollinators.

Backyard Benefits and Berries

mountain ash and cedar waxwingCourtesy Kandie Diskin
Cedar waxwing eating berries

It’s the perfect size for a small backyard, only reaching 10 to 25 feet tall. The tree is just tall enough to use as a small shade tree or showcase as a specimen plant.

Plus, it wows in nearly every season. The dark green summer leaves change to yellow, orange and red hues in autumn. They offer winter interest, too. The bright orange-red berries look gorgeous on snowy branches and keep the birds coming back for more. And in spring, delicate white flowers offer nectar and pollen to fluttering pollinators. This tough little tree is also tolerant of strong winds.

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Kirsten Schrader
Kirsten has more than 15 years of experience writing and editing birding and gardening content. As content director of Birds & Blooms, she leads the team of editors and freelance writers sharing tried-and-true advice for nature enthusiasts who love to garden and feed birds in their backyards. Since joining Birds & Blooms 17 years ago, Kirsten has held roles in digital and print, editing direct-to-consumer books, running as many as five magazines at a time, and managing special interest publications. Kirsten has traveled to see amazing North American birds and attended various festivals, including the Sedona Hummingbird Festival, the Rio Grande Bird Festival, The Biggest Week in American Birding Festival, and the Cape May Spring Festival. She has also witnessed the epic sandhill crane migration while on a photography workshop trip to Colorado. Kirsten has participated in several GardenComm and Outdoor Writers Association of America annual conferences and is a member of the Wisconsin Society for Ornithology. When she's not researching, writing, and editing all things birding and gardening, Kirsten is enjoying the outdoors with her nature-loving family. She and her husband are slowly chipping away at making their small acreage the backyard of their dreams.