This species grows as a shrub along the west coast of North America from Alaska to New Mexico. Further inland it is very much a species of the Rocky Mountains, though its range also extends to the eastern valleys of the Cascades. It particularly favours the lower forested slopes of foothills.
Like other American mountain ash species, this one resembles the European equivalent (S. aucuparia) but does not grow into a tree, remaining a thick-branched shrub. It thrives in southern Finland, at least, and seems to survive comparative drought.This species has been grown at Mustila from seed collected by the Helsinki University Botanic Garden expedition to British Columbia in 1995. It can be seen growing both on Pohjoisrinne, or Northern Slope, and at the western end of Etelärinne, or Southern slope, in the Sorbus (i.e. mountain ash) collection.