leaves are oval, alternate,
5-12 cm long, with fine, single or double toothed margins. They are
yellow-green above, becoming hairless with age, but persistently dense
and white-hairy beneath. The leaf-stalks are 7-20 mm long.
Whitebeam is a
tree with a wide, dense crown. It grows up to 15 m high with a grey,
shallowly fissured bark, and is found in woods and scrub, mainly on
lime-rich soils but also grows on sandstone.
When the buds
are opening in spring, showing the silvery-white undersides of the
leaves, the whole tree seems to be covered in flowers, but these arrive
The white, 5-petalled,
sweet-scented flowers, 10-15 mm across are arranged in dense, branched,
flat-topped clusters, at the end of stems. They appear in May.
The round berries,
8-15 mm across, are green at first, but change to bright scarlet when
ripe in September.
The hard wood
was used for making cogs for machines before being replaced by iron.
The hairy undersides
of the leaves protect the plant from pollution, so it is much used
as a decorative street tree for its leaves, flowers and fruit.
The 'beam' of
whitebeam comes from the German 'baum' - a tree - and a white tree