Tree Species

Information on the silviculture of over seventy tree species is provided, many of which are less well-known or tested in Britain. Although many of these are considered "minor" or "novel", most have been grown in the country for well over two hundred years but have never been adopted widely by foresters.

Some of these may prove more resilient to a changing climate or pests and diseases, others may provide valuable products for future markets. In the right place, such species can help diversify our forests to provide a range of benefits to society and the environment.

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Service-tree (Wild)

Sorbus torminalis

Synonyms: Chequer Tree, Checker Tree

Native range

Native to southern Britain and western and southern Europe.

Provenance choice

There have been no provenance trials in Britain so plants should be from sources of local origin or from the near continent.

Site requirements

This is a light demanding early successional species which is generally found as an isolated individual or group of trees in broadleaved woodland; large diameter trees are highly valued for their timber. It is adapted to warm climates with > 600 mm rainfall per year. Best growth will be obtained on sites of medium to very rich nutrient regime and of fresh moisture status, including alkaline soils of good rooting depth. It is not suited to wet or very wet soils or those of very poor nutrient status but can tolerate drier conditions more than other broadleaves.  With climate warming, more sites in lowland Britain may become suitable for this species.

Pests and pathogens

Can be affected by fireblight (Erwinia amylovora) and silverleaf (Chondrostereum purpureum) which can be a progressive and sometimes fatal disease.

Timber characteristics

The heartwood is a light pinkish brown and the sap wood is not clearly distinguishable.  It is a hard, heavy and very durable timber. 


Today the wood is hard to come by, especially in the British Isles, but is in demand to some extent by turners and carvers who appreciate its qualities.

The database contains ... with this species.

Most text is based on Forest Research Tree Species and Provenances web pages.

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