Here are two photographs of Sorbus setschwanensis, taken a month apart. I returned to photograph this plant a second time as I felt my first picture lacked a range of colour. More than made up for by the second image!
If you’ve ever walked UBC Botanical Garden’s David C. Lam Asian Garden, you’ve encountered a different Sorbus species around nearly every corner (even if you didn’t know it at the time). Sorbus setschwanensis is one of nearly eighty different kinds of Sorbus growing at UBC. Many are trees, but Sorbus setschwanensis is a shrubby species; it can be found on the west side of Meyer Glade. At first, it didn’t seem to resemble a mountain ash due to the small leaflets and few berries. When the leaves were still green, the branches with their imparipinnate leaf arrangements slightly resembled the fronds of ferns to my first glance. Here’s a photograph I took that day to compare with a fern frond, to show the odd resemblance. The fantastic autumn colors in the leaves were a welcoming surprise when I revisited the plant.
Sorbus setschwanensis is a shrub native to the Sichuan and Guizhou provinces of China. These shrubs reach a height of 2 to 5m (6-16 ft.). According to the Flora of China, the species grows at elevations of 2300m to 3000m (7500-10000 ft.) in mixed forests and on stony slopes. White fruits (pomes) appear in small clusters at the end of summer, though on this plant, clustered was a very generous term. I had a choice of perhaps three of four fruits that were visible and close enough to include in a photo. As an uncommon species in cultivation, it lacks a common name. It is known from only a few gardens around the world.