Sunday 8 December 2013

Celebrating Sorbus

An eye-catching duo of Sorbus aucuparia in Welburn, North Yorkshire (November).

During the course of the autumn a very frequent remark in any conversation between gardeners has been 'how good the Sorbus have been this year,' so before it's too late I thought it would be good to celebrate this here. A few species have indeed featured as images in the past couple of months but here is a gallery of others, all pinnate-leaved true Sorbus, that have caught my attention. In reviewing my images the other thing worth mentioning is how fine the weather was for so long this autumn, a counterweight to the horrible protracted winter- although that was probably responsible for the superb crops of Sorbus berries by delaying the flowering until it was warmer and there were more pollinators around. These images were mostly taken of trees in the Yorkshire Arboretum, where we have a good collection (though the nomenclature needs work), but some are from elsewhere, as noted.

The western North American Sorbus sitchensis peaked in August
as did S. californica (labelled S. cascadensis), which had lost both leaves and fruits by mid September.

Also looking good early, but continuing for a long time is the dwarf S. frutescens.

September: S. pseudovilmorinii (foreground) and what we have labelled as S. pteridophylla behind - a fine tree with ivory-white berries.

A mystery: this superbly fructiferous shrubby tree is labelled Brickell & Leslie 12545, a number that really belongs to the recently named S. carmesina (which grows adjacent). The collectors told me this week that both pink- and white-fruited species were growing on the same hillside in Yunnan in 1987. Perhaps a berry got in the wrong bag...

The familiar, large-fruited S. cashmiriana at Dawyck, October.

The magnificent wide panicles and big leaves of Sorbus sargentiana make it an outstanding garden plant. This is at Colesbourne Park, October.

Striking clusters of fruit on S. esserteauiana 'Flava' in October

and in late November.

Fading colours but still attractive: S. pseudovilmorinii and S. pteridophylla again, November.

Still at its peak this weekend - the fieldfares and redwings are busily stripping most of the trees now, but seem uninterested in this, which we have labelled as S. monbeigii, Forrest 23890.

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