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Rock Whitebeam

Sorbus rupicola

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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Rosaceae (Rose)
Also in this family:
Acute Leaf-lobed Lady's-mantle, Alpine Cinquefoil, Alpine Lady's-mantle, Ampfield Cotoneaster, Arran Service Tree, Arran Whitebeam, Barren Strawberry, Bastard Agrimony, Bastard Service Tree, Bearberry Cotoneaster, Bird Cherry, Blackthorn, Bloody Whitebeam, Bramble, Bristol Whitebeam, Broad-leaved Whitebeam, Broadtooth Lady's-mantle, Bronze Pirri-pirri-bur, Bullace Plum, Bullate Cotoneaster, Burnet Rose, Catacol Whitebeam, Caucasian Lady's-mantle, Cheddar Whitebeam, Cherry Laurel, Cherry Plum, Chinese Photinia, Cloudberry, Clustered Lady's-mantle, Common Agrimony, Common Hawthorn, Common Lady's-mantle, Common Medlar, Common Ninebark, Common Whitebeam, Crab Apple, Creeping Chinese Bramble, Creeping Cinquefoil, Crimean Lady's-mantle, Cultivated Apple, Cultivated Pear, Cut-leaved Blackberry, Damson, Devon Whitebeam, Dewberry, Diel's Cotoneaster, Dog Rose, Doward Whitebeam, Dropwort, Elm-leaved Bramble, English Whitebeam, Entire-leaved Cotoneaster, False Salmonberry, Field Rose, Firethorn, Fodder Burnet, Fragrant Agrimony, Franchet's Cotoneaster, Garden Lady's-mantle, Garden Strawberry, Giant Meadowsweet, Glaucous Dog Rose, Goatsbeard Spiraea, Gough's Rock Whitebeam, Great Burnet, Greengage Plum, Grey-leaved Whitebeam, Hairless Lady's-mantle, Hairy Lady's-mantle, Hautbois Strawberry, Himalayan Blackberry, Himalayan Cotoneaster, Himalayan Whitebeam, Hoary Cinquefoil, Hollyberry Cotoneaster, Hupeh Rowan, Hybrid Cinquefoil, Hybrid Geum, Irish Whitebeam, Japanese Cherry, Japanese Quince, Japanese Rose, Jew's Mallow, Juneberry, Lancaster Whitebeam, Late Cotoneaster, Least Lady's-mantle, Least Whitebeam, Leigh Woods Whitebeam, Ley's Whitebeam, Liljefor's Whitebeam, Littleleaf Cotoneaster, Llangollen Whitebeam, Llanthony Whitebeam, Lleyn Cotoneaster, Loganberry, Many-flowered Rose, Margaret's Whitebeam, Marsh Cinquefoil, Meadowsweet, Midland Hawthorn, Mougeot's Whitebeam, Mountain Ash, Mountain Avens, Mountain Sibbaldia, Moupin's Cotoneaster, No Parking Whitebeam, Ocean Spray, Orange Whitebeam, Pale Bridewort, Pale Lady's-mantle, Parsley Piert, Pirri-pirri-bur, Plymouth Pear, Portuguese Laurel, Purple-flowered Raspberry, Quince, Raspberry, Rock Cinquefoil, Rock Lady's-mantle, Round-leaved Dog Rose, Round-leaved Whitebeam, Rum Cherry, Russian Cinquefoil, Salad Burnet, Sargent's Rowan, Scannell's Whitebeam, Service Tree, Sharp-toothed Whitebeam, Sherard's Downy Rose, Shining Lady's-mantle, Ship Rock Whitebeam, Short-styled Rose, Shrubby Cinquefoil, Silver Lady's-mantle, Silverweed, Slender Parsley Piert, Slender-spined Bramble, Small-flowered Sweetbriar, Small-leaved Sweetbriar, Soft Downy Rose, Somerset Whitebeam, Sorbaria, Sour Cherry, Southern Downy Rose, Southern Lady's-mantle, Spineless Acaena, Spring Cinquefoil, St. Lucie's Cherry, Steeplebush, Stern's Cotoneaster, Stirton's Whitebeam, Stone Bramble, Sulphur Cinquefoil, Swedish Service Tree, Swedish Whitebeam, Sweet Briar, Symond's Yat Whitebeam, Tengyueh Cotoneaster, Thimbleberry, Thin-leaved Whitebeam, Tibetan Cotoneaster, Tormentil, Trailing Tormentil, Tree Cotoneaster, Trefoil Cinquefoil, Twin-cliffs Whitebeam, Two-spined Acaena, Wall Cotoneaster, Water Avens, Waterer's Cotoneaster, Waxy Lady's-mantle, Welsh Cotoneaster, Welsh Whitebeam, White Burnet, White's Whitebeam, White-stemmed Bramble, Wild Cherry, Wild Pear, Wild Plum, Wild Service Tree, Wild Strawberry, Willmott's Whitebeam, Willow-leaved Bridewort, Willow-leaved Cotoneaster, Wineberry, Wood Avens, Wye Whitebeam, Yellow-flowered Strawberry
Deciduous tree
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
8 metres tall
Cliffs, grassland, mountains, rocky places, scrub, woodland.

White, 5 petals
Each flower is up to 16mm in diameter. Similar-looking flowers to Rowan (a.k.a. the Mountain Ash tree).
Red berries which are broader than long, each measuring up to 15mm across. The berries appear between September and November in the UK.
Simple, oval, green leaves, up to 15cm long. The upper half of the leaves have acute, evenly toothed margins. Leaf undersides are white. The leaves are roughly twice as long as wide and are widest towards their tips. Each leaf has between 6 and 11 veins.
Other Names:
Grey Whitebeam.
Frequency (UK):
Rarely seen  

Similar Species

Other Information


Sorbus rupicola, commonly known as the Rock Whitebeam, is a species of tree in the rose family. It is native to Europe, specifically in the mountainous regions of the Alps and the Pyrenees. It is a small to medium-sized deciduous tree, typically reaching 10-20 feet in height, with a narrow and upright crown. The leaves are oval-shaped, with serrated edges, and the tree produces clusters of white flowers in the spring, followed by red berries in the fall. The Rock Whitebeam is a popular ornamental tree and is known for its attractive leaves and fruit. It is also used in some traditional medicine practices. This tree is specially adapted to grow on rocky and dry soils, that's why it is named Rock Whitebeam.


Rock Whitebeam: The Majestic Tree of the Mountains

If you're an avid hiker or have an interest in botany, then you've probably come across the Rock Whitebeam (Sorbus rupicola) in your travels. This beautiful tree is native to the mountains of Europe and is known for its distinctive white bark and lush green leaves.

The Rock Whitebeam is a medium-sized tree that typically grows to a height of 10-15 meters. Its trunk is sturdy and thick, covered with a layer of white, papery bark that gives it a unique and striking appearance. The leaves are ovate in shape, with a glossy green color and serrated edges. They are arranged in a simple pattern and are known to be attractive to a range of insects and other wildlife.

The tree is well-adapted to its mountainous habitat and is able to grow in difficult conditions such as high altitudes, rocky soils, and exposure to strong winds. This has made it a valuable resource for local communities who use it for fuel and construction materials.

One of the most distinctive features of the Rock Whitebeam is its fruit. The fruit of this tree is a small pome, usually red in color, that contains a number of small seeds. These fruits are edible and are often used to make preserves, jams, and other foodstuffs. They are also enjoyed by birds and other wildlife, who help to distribute the seeds of the tree and contribute to its growth and spread.

The Rock Whitebeam is a beautiful and valuable tree that deserves recognition for its unique characteristics and important role in the ecosystems of the European mountains. Whether you're a hiker, botanist, or just someone who appreciates the beauty of nature, the Rock Whitebeam is definitely worth taking a closer look at on your next visit to the mountains.

The Rock Whitebeam is also known for its ecological significance. It plays a critical role in maintaining the balance of the mountain ecosystems by providing habitat and food for a wide range of species, including birds, insects, and small mammals.

In addition, the Rock Whitebeam is an important indicator species, meaning that its presence or absence can indicate the health of its surrounding ecosystem. A thriving population of Rock Whitebeams suggests a healthy, balanced ecosystem, while a decline in their numbers can indicate environmental problems such as pollution or habitat loss.

Despite its importance, the Rock Whitebeam is threatened by a number of factors, including habitat loss and degradation, over-grazing by livestock, and climate change. These threats can have serious impacts on the health of the mountain ecosystems and the species that depend on them.

Conservation efforts are underway to protect and preserve the Rock Whitebeam and its habitats. These efforts include habitat restoration and management, introduction of protective measures to prevent over-grazing and other forms of damage, and education programs to raise awareness about the importance of this species.

The Rock Whitebeam is a magnificent tree that deserves our attention and protection. Its ecological significance and aesthetic value make it a valuable asset to the mountain ecosystems and a treasure for future generations to enjoy. Let us work together to ensure its survival and help it thrive for many years to come.

It's also worth mentioning that the Rock Whitebeam has cultural significance in some regions of Europe. For example, in some parts of the Pyrenees, the tree has long been associated with local legends and folklore, with some believing that it has mystical powers. In these cultures, the tree is often regarded as a symbol of strength, resilience, and protection.

The unique appearance of the Rock Whitebeam has also made it a popular subject for artists, photographers, and nature lovers. Its striking white bark and lush green leaves make for a beautiful and inspiring sight, particularly in the fall when its leaves turn a brilliant shade of yellow.

However, despite its popularity, the Rock Whitebeam remains a relatively unknown species outside of its native range. This is a shame, as its beauty, ecological importance, and cultural significance make it a tree that deserves to be recognized and appreciated by a wider audience.

In conclusion, the Rock Whitebeam is a remarkable tree that has much to offer. Whether you're a nature lover, an artist, or simply someone who appreciates the beauty of the natural world, it's a tree that is well worth getting to know. So the next time you're in the mountains, take a moment to appreciate this magnificent species and the important role it plays in our world.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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