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Least Whitebeam

Sorbus minima

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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, 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:
6 metres tall
Mountains, rocky places, woodland.

White, 5 petals
Clusters of white flowers. Cream-coloured anthers.
The fruit is a red berry, up to 8mm across. There are a few scars present on the fruit. The technical name for the scars are lenticels.
Narrow, oval leaves which are about 7cm long and 3.5cm wide. Large-toothed margins with small lobes. The leaves are greyish beneath and have sharply pointed tips.
Other Names:
Lesser Whitebeam.
Frequency (UK):
Rarely seen  

Other Information


Sorbus minima is a species of whitebeam tree that is native to the UK, Ireland and parts of Europe. It is a small deciduous tree, which grows up to 6 meters in height. The leaves are narrow and elongated, with 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 and European law. It is found in ancient woodlands and rocky areas, typically in high altitude mountainous regions.


Least Whitebeam, Sorbus minima: A Rare and Endangered Species

Least Whitebeam is a small tree species native to the United Kingdom, and it is one of the rarest and most endangered species of the genus Sorbus. It is found only in a few small populations in the wild, primarily in the counties of Devon and Cornwall.

The tree can grow up to 6 meters tall, and it has a distinctive, narrow crown with dense branches and small, white flowers that bloom in spring. Its leaves are also unique, with a toothed edge and a distinctive white underside. In the autumn, the leaves turn a brilliant yellow-orange color, making it a beautiful addition to any landscape.

One of the main reasons for the rarity of the Least Whitebeam is its limited distribution. It is only found in a few small areas, which makes it vulnerable to habitat loss and other threats. Additionally, the tree is not commonly cultivated, so it is not often used in landscaping or forestry projects.

Despite its rarity, conservation efforts are underway to protect and conserve the Least Whitebeam. The species is protected under UK law, and several organizations are working to protect its habitat and promote its growth. This includes the planting of new trees and the protection of existing populations.

The Least Whitebeam is a fascinating and beautiful tree species that deserves our attention and protection. Its rarity and unique characteristics make it a valuable addition to the world of botany, and its conservation is important for future generations to enjoy.

In addition to its beauty, the Least Whitebeam also has ecological importance. As a rare species, it plays a crucial role in maintaining the biodiversity of the regions where it is found. The tree provides habitat and food for a variety of wildlife, including birds, insects, and small mammals.

It is also an important source of nectar for pollinators, including bees and butterflies, which are essential for maintaining healthy ecosystems and supporting food production. The loss of the Least Whitebeam would not only be a loss of a unique species, but it would also have a ripple effect on the surrounding environment.

Despite its importance, the Least Whitebeam is facing a number of threats, including habitat loss, climate change, and disease. Climate change is causing shifts in temperature and precipitation patterns, which can alter the growth and survival of the tree. In addition, diseases such as the fungal infection, ash dieback, pose a significant threat to the species.

To help protect the Least Whitebeam and its habitat, it is important for individuals and organizations to take action. This can include supporting conservation efforts, planting new trees, and reducing the use of pesticides and other harmful chemicals that can harm the tree and its environment. By working together, we can ensure the survival of this rare and beautiful species for future generations to enjoy.

The Least Whitebeam is a unique and valuable species that is facing numerous challenges. However, with the right efforts and attention, we can help protect this tree and its habitat for future generations. Whether you are a botanist, ecologist, or simply someone who appreciates nature, the Least Whitebeam is a species worth learning about and protecting.

It is also worth noting that the Least Whitebeam is not only rare and endangered in the United Kingdom, but it is also considered a rare species globally. This makes its conservation even more important, as it is a species that cannot be found anywhere else in the world.

Conserving the Least Whitebeam also has cultural significance, as it has been a part of the local landscape for thousands of years. In the past, the tree was used for a variety of purposes, including fuel, construction, and food. Today, it serves as a reminder of the natural beauty and diversity of the region and is an important part of the local heritage.

In addition to conservation efforts, education and awareness are also key to protecting the Least Whitebeam. By educating people about the tree, its habitat, and the threats it faces, we can increase understanding and appreciation of this rare species. This, in turn, can lead to greater support for conservation efforts and a greater understanding of the importance of biodiversity.

In conclusion, the Least Whitebeam is a unique and valuable species that deserves our attention and protection. Its rarity, beauty, and ecological importance make it a species worth learning about and conserving. Whether you are a botanist, ecologist, or simply someone who appreciates nature, the Least Whitebeam is a species that is worth supporting and preserving for future generations to enjoy.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

Click to open an Interactive Map