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Sorbus torminalis
  • RHS Plants for pollinators

wild service tree

A deciduous tree to 12m in height with an upright rounded habit, the maple-like, broad, pinnately lobed dark green leaves, downy beneath, turning reddish or yellow in autumn, and lax clusters of white flowers in early summer, followed by small speckled brown fruits

Other common names
checker tree
checkers
see morechequer tree
chequers
griping tree
sorb
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Size
Ultimate height
8–12 metres
Time to ultimate height
20–50 years
Ultimate spread
4–8 metres
Growing conditions
Chalk
Loam
Sand
Moisture
Moist but well–drained, Well–drained
pH
Acid, Alkaline, Neutral
Colour & scent
StemFlowerFoliageFruit
Spring Green
Summer White Green
Autumn Red Yellow Brown
Winter
Position
  • Full sun
  • Partial shade
Aspect

East–facing or South–facing or North–facing or West–facing

Exposure
Exposed or Sheltered
Hardiness
H6
Botanical details
Family
Rosaceae
Native to the UK
Yes
Foliage
Deciduous
Habit
Bushy
Potentially harmful
Fruit are ornamental - not to be eaten. Wear gloves and other protective equipment when handling
Genus

Sorbus can be deciduous trees or shrubs with simple or pinnate leaves and clusters of small white or pink flowers, followed by white, yellow, pink, red or brown berries; some have fine autumn colour

Name status

Correct

Plant range
Europe, Africa, Asia

How to grow

Cultivation

Grow in moderately fertile, humus-rich soil. Tolerant of atmospheric pollution and dry conditions

Propagation

Propagate by seed, softwood cuttings or grafting

Suggested planting locations and garden types
  • Wildlife gardens
  • Cottage and informal garden
Pruning

Pruning group 1

Pests

May be susceptible to aphids, scale insects, pear blister mite, red spider mite and sawfly larvae

Diseases

May be susceptible to fireblight, apple canker, silver leaf and honey fungus

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