Whitebeams, Rowans and Service Trees are all members of the Sorbus family. There are 44 species and 8 hybrids in this family in Britain. Some of them are very rare and endangered but some, such as the Common Whitebeam and the Swedish Whitebeam are frequently encountered in rural and urban environments.
The Common Whitebeam 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 Common Whitebeam leaf is oval-shaped and toothed but its main feature is that the underside of the leaf is covered in white hairs.
The Swedish Whitebeam is a medium-sized deciduous tree native to Sweden, the Baltic States and northern Poland. It is believed to be a hybrid with 3 parents – the Common Rowan, the Wild Service and another Whitebeam. It is a hardy tree and has been planted in parks and streets and in some areas has become naturalised.
The leaf is lobed and has 6 to 9 pairs of veins. The leaf is pale green underneath, unlike the Common Whitebeam
Flowers in mid May. The flowers are clustered in the form of a corymb. Clusters are larger than those of the Common Whitebeam.