The Wild Service Tree is an English native tree, also found across much of Europe. It can perhaps be regarded as a primitive form of Sorbus, and shares many characteristics with the Whitebeams (Sorbus aria).
It flowers in late May - June, with dull white clusters of flowers.
The flowers are followed by brown fruits, somewhat larger and more elongated than those of modern Sorbus varieties, more like small dates. As with many Sorbus, the fruits can be cooked, but are not particularly palatable.
The leaves are large, resembling maple leaves. They are a shiny green over the summer, and take on yellowo / crimson hues in the autumn.
The tree was previously grown for the qualities of its dense wood.
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The fruits of the Wild Service Tree are known in southern England as "chequers" and the tree is known as the Chequers Tree. The fruits were sometimes used for flavouring beer, and it is perhaps no coincidence that "The Chequers" is a common name for public houses.
It is not to be confused with the True Service Tree (Sorbus domestica).
We list more than 50 Sorbus (rowan and whitebeam) trees. Choosing can be difficult! Our article explaining the different berry and leaf colours might help narrow down the selection.