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Grey-leaved Whitebeam

Sorbus porrigentiformis

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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, 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, Rock Whitebeam, 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 shrub
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
20 metres tall
Cliffs, grassland, rocky places, woodland.

White, 5 petals
Clusters of white flowers. The flowers have pink anthers.
Purplish-red globular berries with pale markings (lenticels). About 1cm in diameter.
Broadly oval leaves that are fairly evenly toothed. The base of the leaves are untoothed. The undersides of the leaves are pale green.
Other Names:
Grey-leafed Whitebeam.
Frequency (UK):
Rarely seen  

Similar Species

Other Information


Sorbus porrigentiformis is a species of whitebeam tree that is native to the UK and Ireland. It is a small to medium-sized deciduous tree, growing up to 20 meters in height. The leaves are oval in shape and have a glossy green upper surface and a pale underside. The tree produces clusters of white flowers in the spring, followed by small red berries in the fall. It is considered a rare species and is protected under UK law. It is found in ancient woodland and rocky areas.


Grey-leaved Whitebeam (Sorbus porrigentiformis) is a deciduous tree that is native to the UK. It is a member of the rose family and is related to other species of whitebeams such as the Rowan tree (Sorbus aucuparia). The tree is named for its distinctive grey-green leaves which are ovate in shape and have a slightly downy texture.

The tree typically grows to a height of 15 to 20 meters, with a trunk that can reach up to 50 cm in diameter. It has a dense and rounded crown, making it a good choice for ornamental planting. The bark of the tree is grey-brown and has a rough, furrowed appearance.

In late spring to early summer, the Grey-leaved Whitebeam produces small, white flowers in clusters. These are followed by red or yellow berries which are attractive to birds and wildlife. The tree is also a good source of nectar for insects, making it an important habitat for biodiversity.

The tree is well adapted to grow in a range of soils, including heavy clay soils, as long as they are well-drained. It prefers a sheltered site and partial shade, but is also able to grow in full sun. The tree is tough and resilient, making it suitable for urban planting, and is resistant to the majority of pests and diseases.

The Grey-leaved Whitebeam is a beautiful and versatile tree that is well-suited to a variety of landscaping applications. Its distinctive grey leaves and attractive flowers and berries make it a popular choice for parks, gardens, and streetscapes. The tree is also an important habitat for wildlife and contributes to the biodiversity of the area in which it is planted.

In addition to its ornamental value, the Grey-leaved Whitebeam has cultural and historical significance in the UK. For example, it has been used for centuries for coppicing, a traditional method of woodland management that involves cutting back trees to near ground level to encourage new growth. The resultant wood was used for a variety of purposes including charcoal making, fence posts, and firewood.

The tree is also known for its strong and durable wood, which is valued for its stability and resistance to decay. This makes it a popular choice for construction purposes, such as beams, floorboards, and furniture.

Another unique feature of the Grey-leaved Whitebeam is its ability to hybridize with other species of whitebeams. This results in the production of hybrid offspring that exhibit a range of different characteristics and can be used to create new cultivars with improved ornamental value or growth characteristics.

The Grey-leaved Whitebeam is considered to be a relatively rare species, with only a small number of populations known to exist in the wild. This makes it important to conserve and protect the existing populations, and to promote the planting of new trees in suitable habitats.

The Grey-leaved Whitebeam is a tree of many talents, with a rich cultural and ecological heritage. Its ornamental value, versatility, and rarity make it a valuable addition to any landscape, and a worthwhile subject of further study and conservation efforts.

The Grey-leaved Whitebeam is also known for its tolerance to air pollution, making it a great choice for urban landscapes. The tree is able to absorb and filter out harmful particulates and chemicals from the air, helping to improve local air quality. This is especially important in densely populated areas where air pollution levels can be high, and where trees play a critical role in maintaining a healthy and livable environment.

In addition to its air-cleansing capabilities, the Grey-leaved Whitebeam also provides other ecosystem services, such as reducing soil erosion, cooling the local environment through shade, and reducing noise levels. The tree can also help to mitigate the effects of climate change by sequestering carbon and releasing oxygen through the process of photosynthesis.

When selecting a location for planting the Grey-leaved Whitebeam, it is important to consider the future growth of the tree. The tree has a moderate to fast growth rate, and will eventually reach a mature height of 15 to 20 meters. As such, it should be planted in an area with sufficient space to accommodate its eventual size and spread.

Finally, it is worth noting that the Grey-leaved Whitebeam is a relatively slow-growing species and may take several years to establish and reach maturity. However, once established, the tree is relatively low maintenance and will require only occasional pruning to maintain its shape and health.

In conclusion, the Grey-leaved Whitebeam is a tree that offers a wide range of benefits to both people and the environment. Whether used for ornamental purposes, habitat creation, or air purification, this tree is a valuable addition to any landscape, and a deserving subject of ongoing conservation efforts.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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