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Sorbus torminalis - (L.)Crantz.

Common Name Wild Service Tree, Checkertree
Family Rosaceae
USDA hardiness 5-9
Known Hazards The seeds probably contain hydrogen cyanide. This is the ingredient that gives almonds their characteristic flavour. Unless the seed is very bitter it should be perfectly safe in reasonable quantities. In small quantities, hydrogen cyanide has been shown to stimulate respiration and improve digestion, it is also claimed to be of benefit in the treatment of cancer. In excess, however, it can cause respiratory failure and even death.
Habitats Woods, usually on clay[186], sometimes on limestone[17].
Range Europe, from Britain and Denmark south and east to N. Africa, the Caucasus and W. Asia.
Edibility Rating    (4 of 5)
Other Uses    (0 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (0 of 5)
Care
Fully Hardy Moist Soil Semi-shade Full sun
Sorbus torminalis Wild Service Tree, Checkertree


Sorbus torminalis Wild Service Tree, Checkertree
© Andrew Dunn

 

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Summary


Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of lolypop
Sorbus torminalis is a deciduous Tree growing to 20 m (65ft 7in) at a medium rate.
It is hardy to zone (UK) 6 and is not frost tender. It is in flower in June, and the seeds ripen from September to October. The species is hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs) and is pollinated by Insects.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils, prefers well-drained soil and can grow in heavy clay soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil. The plant can tolerates strong winds but not maritime exposure.

Synonyms

Crataegus torminalis. Pyrus torminalis.

Habitats

Woodland Garden Canopy;

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Fruit.
Edible Uses:

Fruit - raw or cooked[2, 5, 11, 74, 115, 183]. The taste is best after a frost because it turns sweeter. The fruit can also be bletted if it is going to be eaten raw[3, 183]. This involves storing the fruit in a cool dry place until it is almost but not quite going rotten. At this stage the fruit has a delicious taste, somewhat like a luscious tropical fruit. Rich in vitamin C. The fruit is up to 1.5cm across[200] and is borne in bunches which makes it easier to harvest[K].

Medicinal Uses



Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

Antirheumatic;  Hypoglycaemic.

None known

Other Uses

Wood.

Wood - heavy, fine grained, polishes well. Used for turning, wood carving[74, 115].

Cultivation details

Succeeds in most reasonably good soils so long as they are not too poor or acid, in an open sunny position[1, 11]. Prefers clay soils[3, 11]. Tolerates moderate shade[188], but does not fruit so well in such a position[K]. Grows best in the eastern half of Britain[121]. Plants are susceptible to fireblight[188]. Plants respond well to coppicing[186]. When found in a truly wild situation this species is considered to be an indication of primary woodland[200].

Propagation

Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe in a cold frame[78, 80]. If you have sufficient seed it can be sown in an outdoor seedbed[78, 80]. Stored seed germinates better if given 2 weeks warm then 14 - 16 weeks cold stratification[98], so sow it as early in the year as possible. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle. Seedlings are very slow to put on top-growth for their first year or two[11], but they are busy building up a good root system. It is best to keep them in pots in a cold frame for their first winter and then plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring.

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Found In

Countries where the plant has been found are listed here if the information is available

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status :

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameEdibility RatingMedicinal Rating
Amelasorbus jackiiJack's amelasorbus20
Sorbus alnifoliaKorean Mountain Ash10
Sorbus americanaAmerican Mountain Ash12
Sorbus ariaWhitebeam, Chess-apple31
Sorbus aucupariaMountain Ash, European mountain ash22
Sorbus austriaca 20
Sorbus commixta 10
Sorbus decoraShowy Mountain Ash11
Sorbus devoniensisDevon Whitebeam30
Sorbus domesticaService Tree50
Sorbus gracilis 10
Sorbus hybridaSwedish Service Tree, Oakleaf mountain ash10
Sorbus intermediaSwedish Whitebeam20
Sorbus japonica 10
Sorbus lanata 30
Sorbus latifoliaFrench Hales40
Sorbus mougeotii 40
Sorbus pohuashanensis 10
Sorbus sambucifoliaSiberian mountain ash20
Sorbus scopulinaWestern Mountain Ash, Greene's mountain ash, Cascade mountain ash21
Sorbus sitchensisSitka Mountain Ash, Western mountain ash11
Sorbus species 20
Sorbus thibeticaTibetan whitebeam30
Sorbus vestita 10

 

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Expert comment

Author

(L.)Crantz.

Botanical References

1117200

Links / References

For a list of references used on this page please go here

Readers comment

Roger Parker   Sun Aug 12 2007

In parts of England, in past centuries, the berries were used to flavour certain types of beer and ale. The sign hanging ouside a number of old English pubs, "The Chequers", does not always show a black and white board but sometimes shows a picture of the Wild Service Tree. See "Trees and Bushes in wood and hedgerow" H.Vedel & J.Lange. (English translation) Methuen.

Photos (the text is in portuguese but everything they write there is already here)   May 7 2011 12:00AM

Sorbus

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