Bouquet. Paul Gauguin. 1884. The State Hermitage Museum. St. Petersburg, Russia.
In the yard there grows a Rowan.
Thou with reverent care should'st tend it.
Holy is the tree there growing.
Holy likewise are it's branches.
On it's boughs the leaves are holy.
And it's berries yet more holy.
The Rowan, variously known as the Whispering Tree, Witch wood, Quickbane, Delight of the Eye, and Rune tree, is a tough, small tree which is able to survive in poor, overworked soil. According to the Finnish creation myth, when the Goddess Rauni descended to earth at the beginning of Time, there were no plants. She assumed the form of a Rowan tree and mated with Ukko, the God of thunder. Their offspring are all the plants of the world. Therefore, in this mythology, all plant life is directly descended from the Rowan tree.
Many cultures throughout the world incorporate this tree into their mythology. For instance, the Celts believed that Rowan wood offered protection from evil spirits. It was common practice to plant a Rowan tree next to a Celtic house to protect the home's occupants.