Wild Service Tree identification

The Wild Service Tree Sorbus torminalis (named as the Wild Service Tree  to differentiate it from other Service trees)  is native to Europe, including Britain, the Caucasus, Syria and Algeria. It is found in ancient woodlands and hedgerows with the highest numbers in the south and east of England.

Wild Service Tree identification – Maple-like, alternate leaves, white flowers in May, ripe brown fruit in August, scaly bark. The leaf is similar to the Norway Maple but the veins are different.  The fruit is sometimes called Chequers and was used to flavour or make beer. Click on any photo to enlarge it.

mature Service tree

A large Wild Service tree growing in Maulden Wood, Bedfordshire.

service tree leaf showing veins

The leaf looks like that of a Maple but the veins do not all radiate from a single point like a Maple.

service tree alternate leaves

The leaves are alternate, unlike the Maples where the leaves are opposite.

The bark of an old tree is scaly.

Flowers emerge in May.

The flowers are clustered together in what is called a ‘corymb’ – the same as other members of the Sorbus family such as the Common Whitebeam and the Common Rowan.

Individual flowers have 5 white petals and yellow anthers.

A fruit cluster at the end of July. Individual fruits are technically not berries, they are ‘pomes’.

Young tree in January

The bud is rounded with green scales – Photo in January

The bud is glossy

Last year’s fruit still on the tree in March