Wild Service Tree

┬ęPhilip Precey

Wild service tree

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Scientific name: Sorbus torminalis
An inconspicuous tree for much of the year, the Wild service tree comes to life in spring, when it displays pretty, white blossom, and autumn, when its Maple-like leaves turn bright crimson.

Top facts


Height: 10-25m

Conservation status


When to see

January to December


The Wild service tree was once widespread, if seldom abundant, in the forests of England and Wales. But, as these were cleared, it became rarer and is now confined to ancient woodlands and hedges, such as those of Royal Hunting Forests, particularly on heavy clay soils. An inconspicuous tree for much of the year, its white blossom in spring and crimson leaves in autumn give it away.

What to look for

The Wild service tree has jagged, palmate leaves (a little like Maple leaves), white flowers and small, apple-like fruit.

Where to find

Widespread in England, but not common.

Did you know?

The Wild service tree is also known as the 'Chequers tree' and its fruits were once regularly used to make alcohol. Many pubs and inns are also called Chequers (as well as the Prime Minister's country residence); however, it's unclear whether the inns gave their name to the fruits or the fruits to the inns!