Rowan is a tree that keeps on surprising. Not only does it produce berries that are packed with vitamins and nutrients, but I recently discovered how the buds and flowers of this plant have a lovely almond flavor. Needless to say, I saw a great potential in this simple, so readily available and abundant ingredient here in the North. The odds were in my favor as we recently had to chop a rowan tree from our garden, since it was too close to our house, hence I had a chance to forage big quantities of rowan buds and experiment with them.

Rowan Buds - Nordic Foraging by The Adagio Blog


The almond flavor in the rowan buds comes from cyanogenic glycosides which, when digested, convert into hydrogen cyanide which is toxic in high doses. Boiling, baking and cooking reduces the contents of cyanide. We’re talking about large quantities here, so, when used sparingly, raw rowan buds, flowers and berries are fine.

When to collect

Depending on where you live, rowan starts to bud in early spring (which in northern Finland means mid-May) and it blooms in the summer. It’s important to collect the buds at an early stage, before the leaves are open for the best taste and less bitterness.

How to store

Store fresh buds and flowers in the refrigerator for a few days, freeze them to preserve them for a few months or soak them in alcohol or syrup.


Collecting tree buds is not part of the everyman’s rights, so always remember to ask the landowner for permission before collecting them.

How to use

Rowan buds taste like bitter almonds, especially if steeped in a liquid or baked, so I’d suggest to use them in anything where you would want to add an almond twist, like cheesecakes, panna cottas, biscuits and cakes, teas or hot chocolates, sky’s the limit!

As I experimented with rowan buds, I noticed how their taste got even more bitter if boiled, so I suggested steeping the buds at a temperature slightly slower than 100ºC for a smooth and sweet almond flavor.

Rowan Buds - Nordic Foraging by The Adagio Blog

Rowan Bud Syrup

A delicious syrup with an almond note to use in cocktails, mocktails, coffee drinks, teas or baking.
Prep Time10 mins
Course: Dessert, Drinks
Cuisine: Nordic
Keyword: almond, buds, rowan, syrup
Author: Thais FK


  • 1 part* of rowan buds
  • 2 parts* of cold water
  • 2 parts* of sugar


  • Rinse the buds and place them in a saucepan.
  • Cover the buds with water, add the sugar and heat the syrup to almost a boiling point, but do not let it boil. The most important thing is that the syrup reaches at least 70º C, but stays below the boiling point.
  • Let the syrup cool completely, strain it** and funnel it into bottles.


*by volume
**After making the syrup, do not throw the buds! Dry them instead and use them for baking, in smoothies or teas.
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Nordic Foraging project by Thais FK supported by Taike

Supported by Taike

Thais FK

Italian photographer, recipe developer and content creator, Thais came to Finland by chance, but stayed for love. Through photography she tells stories about traveling, eating, cooking and living sustainably, in order to discover new cultures and not to forget her origins. Thais FK's portfolio:



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