|The leaf of the Wild Service-tree is a very characteristic shape|
|RFS President Anthony Bosanquet |
presents Sir Henry Elwes with a young tree
|Old specimen of Torminaria torminalis|
The species is generally known as Sorbus torminalis, but there are good grounds (both morphological and genetic) for confining that generic name to the pinnate-leaved rowans, and excluding all the other genera generally stuffed into a rag-bag known as Sorbus. Thus the whitebeams become Aria, the Service-tree becomes Cormus domestica, and the Wild Service-tree is Torminaria torminalis. The problem with this is that the various genera hybridize with varying degrees of ease, and so the easy way round the problem is to call them all Sorbus, but as Rosaceae is well-known to have poor breeding barriers and hybrids occur between widely distinct genera are known, this seems to me to be intellectually lazy. A useful but fairly heavy paper on the subject is available here.
Wild Service-tree is a useful ornamental, not growing too fast or too large into a shapely tree, and the flowers and fruits are decorative when they occur. Its leaves are almost unique in shape, and can hardly be confused with those of anything else. They turn to attractively dusky oranges, reds and browns in autumn.
|The old tree at Colesbourne Park is flowering prolifically this year|
|Flowers of the Wild Service-tree|