Sun exposure:
Dappled shade, full sun, partial shade


Chalky / Alkaline / Clay / Heavy / Moist / Well Drained / Light / Sandy

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

This page contains affiliate links and we may receive a commission for purchases made. Please read our affiliates FAQ page to find out more.

Sorbus and wildlife

Sorbus 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.

Is known to attract Bees
Is known to attract Beneficial insects
Beneficial insects
Is known to attract Birds
Is known to attract Butterflies/​Moths
Is not known to attract Other pollinators
Other pollinators

Is Sorbus poisonous?

Sorbus has no toxic effects reported.

No reported toxicity to:
Is not known to attract Birds
Is not known to attract Cats
Is not known to attract Dogs
Is not known to attract Horses
Is not known to attract Livestock
Is not known to attract People
Plants that go well with Sorbus aria