Common Whitebeam

The Common Whitebeam Sorbus aria is native to the south of England and south and central Europe. It grows best on chalk and limestone. It has been planted as an ornamental tree in many streets and gardens. The leaves are oval and toothed but their most obvious characteristic is that they are very hairy and white underneath. The tree bears white flowers in May and red berries in September Blackened old fruit stays on the tree all winter. Whitebeams, Rowans and Service Trees are all members of the Sorbus genus. There are 44 species and 8 hybrids in this genus in Britain. Some of them are very rare and endangered

Common Whitebeam tree

Common Whitebeam on a chalk hillside in May. Wild trees are often multi-stemmed but urban trees are usually single-stemmed.

Common Whitebeam flower cluster

White flowers in May. A flower cluster like this is called an inflorescence and takes the form of a corymb. Its structure can best be seen in the fruit photo. 

Common Whitebeam leaf

The underside of the green leaf is covered in white hairs. The leaf is oval-shaped and toothed.

Common Whitebeam fruit

The fruit is bright red by the end of September. Technically the fruits are pomes not berries. Each flower in the corymb produces 1 red pome. In a corymb the outermost flowers have longer stems than those in the centre and so a flat head is produced.