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Swedish Service Tree

Sorbus hybrida

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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, 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 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:
25 metres tall
Gardens, grassland, parks, roadsides, woodland.

White, 5 petals
Clusters of white flowers, up to 2cm wide. The stamens are yellowish-white. Pollinated by insects.
A globular red berry, between 10 and 12mm wide. The seeds ripen in September.
Green leaves which are silvery-white with down below. Up to 12cm long and 8cm wide. The leaves have between 6 and 9 oval-shaped leaf lobes.
Other Names:
Finnish Whitebeam, Oakleaf Mountain Ash.
Frequency (UK):

Other Information


Sorbus hybrida is a hybrid tree that is a cross between different species of Sorbus. It is a deciduous tree that typically grows to be about 15-25 meters tall, has a broad-rounded canopy and has leaves which are alternate and simple. The tree produces small, white or pink flowers that grow in clusters, and it bears small, red or yellow-orange berries. The exact characteristics of the tree can vary depending on the specific species that were used in the hybridization process. The tree is known for its hard, durable wood, which is used for making furniture and tool handles, and the fruit is also edible and can be used to make jams, jellies and cider. It is also cultivated as an ornamental tree and it is known for its medicinal properties, in traditional medicine it is used as a treatment for various ailments, including diarrhea and fever.


The Swedish Service Tree, or Sorbus hybrida, is a tree species native to northern Europe, particularly in Sweden, hence its common name. It belongs to the Rosaceae family, which includes other fruit-bearing trees such as apples and pears.


The Swedish Service Tree is a deciduous tree that can grow up to 25 meters tall. It has a rounded crown and a trunk that can reach up to 50 centimeters in diameter. Its leaves are green and oval-shaped, with a serrated edge. In the autumn, the leaves turn a beautiful golden-yellow color before falling. The tree produces white flowers in the spring, which are followed by orange-red berries that ripen in the late summer and early autumn.

Ecological importance

The Swedish Service Tree is an important tree species in northern European forests. It is a pioneer species, which means it is one of the first to colonize open areas after disturbances such as wildfires. As it grows, it helps to stabilize the soil and create a suitable environment for other plant and animal species. The tree's berries are a valuable source of food for birds and small mammals.

Cultural significance

The Swedish Service Tree has a long history of use in traditional medicine. Its berries were believed to have medicinal properties and were used to treat various ailments such as fevers, coughs, and digestive problems. The tree's wood was also used to make tools and furniture, and its bark was used to make tanning agents for leather.

In Sweden, the Swedish Service Tree has cultural significance as a symbol of the coming of autumn. In the town of Kivik, there is an annual festival called the Kivik Apple Market, which celebrates the harvest of the Swedish Service Tree's fruit as well as other apple varieties.

Conservation status

The Swedish Service Tree is not considered to be a threatened species, but its population has declined in some areas due to habitat loss and fragmentation. In recent years, efforts have been made to conserve and promote the tree, such as by planting it in urban areas and including it in reforestation projects.

In conclusion, the Swedish Service Tree is a valuable tree species in northern European forests with ecological, cultural, and medicinal significance. Its orange-red berries, golden-yellow leaves, and white flowers make it a beautiful addition to any landscape. As we continue to learn about the importance of preserving biodiversity, it is important to recognize and appreciate the value of tree species like the Swedish Service Tree.

More Facts about the Swedish Service Tree

Here are some additional facts about the Swedish Service Tree:

  1. Hybrid origin: The Swedish Service Tree is a hybrid of two other tree species - the common whitebeam (Sorbus aria) and the wild service tree (Sorbus torminalis). This is why it is sometimes referred to as the Whitebeam Service Tree.

  2. Range: The Swedish Service Tree is found primarily in northern Europe, including Sweden, Norway, Finland, Denmark, and parts of Russia. It prefers to grow in moist, well-drained soils and can be found in a variety of habitats, including forests, meadows, and along streams and riverbanks.

  3. Edible fruit: The Swedish Service Tree's fruit is edible and has a sweet, slightly tangy flavor. It is often used to make jams, jellies, and syrups, and is sometimes used in baking. The fruit can also be fermented to make a type of wine or cider.

  4. Medicinal properties: In addition to its traditional use in treating various ailments, modern research has found that the Swedish Service Tree contains compounds with anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. It is also being investigated for its potential use in treating certain types of cancer.

  5. Ornamental value: The Swedish Service Tree is a popular ornamental tree, prized for its attractive foliage, flowers, and fruit. It is often planted in parks and gardens, and is also used as a street tree in some urban areas. Its small size and relatively low maintenance requirements make it a good choice for residential landscapes.

  6. Folklore: The Swedish Service Tree is associated with several folk traditions in northern Europe. In Sweden, it was believed that if you passed beneath the branches of a Service Tree on Midsummer's Eve, you would be protected from harm for the rest of the year. In Norway, it was believed that the tree was home to various supernatural beings, including witches and elves.

  7. Wildlife habitat: The Swedish Service Tree's berries are a valuable source of food for a variety of wildlife, including birds like the blackbird, redwing, and fieldfare, as well as small mammals like the dormouse and bank vole. The tree also provides shelter and nesting sites for birds and insects.

  8. Invasive potential: While the Swedish Service Tree is not considered to be an invasive species, it has been introduced to some parts of North America and has the potential to spread rapidly in certain habitats. As a result, it is sometimes subject to restrictions on planting or removal.

  9. Other uses: In addition to its traditional medicinal and culinary uses, the Swedish Service Tree has been used for a variety of other purposes throughout history. Its wood was used to make tools, utensils, and even musical instruments, and its bark was used to make rope and paper. In some parts of Europe, the tree is still used to make a traditional alcoholic beverage known as "Sorbus Schnapps."
  10. Conservation efforts: In recent years, there have been efforts to conserve and promote the Swedish Service Tree, both for its ecological and cultural value. In Sweden, for example, there is an ongoing program to plant Service Trees in urban areas as a way of preserving the species and increasing its visibility. Similarly, there are efforts to encourage the planting of Service Trees in reforestation projects and other natural habitats in order to promote biodiversity and habitat diversity.

Overall, the Swedish Service Tree is a fascinating and versatile tree species with a long history and many practical applications. Whether you appreciate it for its beauty, its cultural significance, or its ecological value, there is no denying that it is an important and valuable part of the northern European landscape.


Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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