Whitebeam (Sorbus aria). Getty Images

Sorbus aria


  • Botanical name: Sorbus aria
  • Common name: Whitebeam
  • Family: Rosaceae
  • Plant Type: Tree, Deciduous
Flower colour:


Foliage colour:


Sorbus aria (whitebeam) is a medium-sized, dome-shaped, deciduous tree, native to the south of the England. It’s planted in towns, parks and gardens throughout the UK but is rarely seen growing in the wild. It has oval, serrated leaves that are shiny and dark green on top and covered with white, felt-like hair underneath – they turn an attractive russet colour in autumn. In May, clusters of small white flowers appear, followed by red, haw-like berries known as chess apples in north west England. These are edible when almost rotten. 


The flowers are pollinated by insects, the berries are popular with birds and the leaves are eaten by caterpillars of several types of moth. The wood of the tree is white and can be used in joinery.

Whitebeam is tolerant of a wide range of soils, including chalk, but for best results grow in moist but well-drained soil, in full sun to partial shade. It’s slow growing but as it grows quite large (around 12m x 8m), it’s best suited to a large or woodland garden.

Where to buy Sorbus aria

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How to grow Sorbus aria

  • Plant size

    12m height

    8m spread

  • Sun exposure: Dappled shade, full sun, partial shade
  • Hardiness: Hardy
  • Soil type: Chalky / alkaline / clay / heavy / moist / well drained / light / sandy

Sorbus aria and wildlife

Sorbus aria is known for attracting bees, beneficial insects, birds and butterflies​/​moths. It is a caterpillar food plant, has nectar/pollen rich flowers and has seeds for birds.

Attractive to Bees

Attractive to Beneficial insects

Attractive to Birds

Attractive to Butterflies​/​Moths

Does not attract Other pollinators

Is Sorbus aria poisonous?

Sorbus aria has no toxic effects reported.

No reported toxicity to:

No reported toxicity to Birds

No reported toxicity to Cats

No reported toxicity to Dogs

No reported toxicity to Horses

No reported toxicity to Livestock

No reported toxicity to People

Plants that go well with Sorbus aria