Wild service tree
Wild service tree (Sorbus torminalis)
Common names are checker tree and chequers. The checker Tree is a species of tree in the mountain ash or rowan genus (Sorbus) of the rose family (Rosaceae), that is native to Europe, parts of northern Africa and western Asia.
It is found from England and Wales east to Denmark and Poland, south to northwest Africa, and southeast to southwest Asia from Asia Minor to the Caucasus and Alborz mountains.
It is a medium-sized deciduous tree growing to 15–25m tall, with a trunk up to 1.3m in diameter. The bark is smooth and greyish, but flaky, peeling away in squarish plates to reveal darker brown layers. The leaves are 6–14 cm long and broad with a 2.5–5 cm petiole, dark green on both sides, with five to nine acute lobes; the basal pair of lobes are spreading, the rest more forward-pointing and decreasing in size to the leaf apex, and with finely toothed margins; the undersides have small hairs when young, but both sides are smooth and shiny when older; the autumn colour is yellow to red-brown. The flowers are 10–15 mm diameter, with five white petals and 20 creamy-white stamens; they are produced in corymbs 5–12 cm diameter in late spring to early summer, and are hermaphrodite and insect pollinated. The fruit is a globose to ovoid pome 10–15 mm diameter, greenish to russet or brown, patterned with small pale lenticel spots when mature in mid to late autumn.
The white flowers appear in May or early June (Photo: G. Aas)
Fruits (Photo: G. Aas)