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
- 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 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