Wild Service-tree
(Sorbus torminalis)


Winter twig
Winter twig



distribution map

The leaves are alternate, 5-7 lobed, and 7 -10 cm long. They are shiny on both surfaces and almost hairless when old. The lobes at the bottom are almost at right angles to the 15-40 mm long leaf-stalk.

ID check

Wild Service-tree is a rare, deciduous, conical-shaped tree up to 25 m tall with ascending branches and a dark grey bark with shallow fissures. It is found scattered in oak-ash woods on clay and limestone.

The creamy-white, 5-petalled flowers, 15 mm across, are arranged in branched, rounded clusters of 20 or more and open in May and June.

Each flower has 2 styles joined halfway down.

The rounded fruits, light brown and speckled with lenticels, about 15 mm long, are ripe in September.


  • It is also called the Chequer Tree, because the bark peels off in rectangular pieces leaving a chequered effect.

  • The berries used to be eaten as a cure for colic and dysentry. The Latin name 'torminalis' means good for colic.

  • The leaves turn a vivid blood-red in autumn

Return to Index Page