Friday, September 2, 2016

The Whitebeams - Sorbus aria/cuspidata/thuringiaca

There are multiple varieties of Whitebeams that are used in various settings most of which have simply shaped slightly rounded and broad leaves. Whitebeams are Old World trees native to the Northern Parts of the Eurasian landmass, from the British Isle to Japan.  The Common Whitebeam -Sorbus aria - also called the Chess-Apple is native to southern England and parts of Central Europe.The Lutescens which is used as a street tree because of it's tight egg shaped crown. The Majestica which is mainly found in France and has larger leaves. The Himalayan - Sorbus cuspidata is a vigorous tall growing tree, with thicker and longer leaves with shallow toothing and slight lobing.  The Wilfred Fox(a hybrid of the common and the Himalayan) this variety is strictly upright and does not have red fruit as the others do. The Finnish Whitebeam -Sorbus thuringiaca  (unknown origin) also a hybrid has a very different appearance then all of the other Whitebeams, it's leaves are not simply shaped they are instead deeply lobed or pinnate with 1-2 separate leaflets at the base of each leaf.  


ImageCitation: Zelimir Borzan, University of Zagreb, Bugwood.org

Whitebeams are moderate sized trees, growing as tall as 60+ feet.  They withstand the harsh conditions of street type locations in European city suburbs.  The leaves are generally simply shaped, rounded and broad (except on the Finnish, theses are deeply loped) Green above and silver below.   The fruits appears in bunches of small berries, depending on the variety the berries are red, orange or sometimes brown.  The flowers are generally small and white in color, bisexual and usually arranged in large, branched corymbs, except on the Himalayan their flowers are larger and have a strong scent similar to the Hawthorn.  Flowers on the Whitebeams are smaller in size and number then the Mountain Ash, the berries also occur in lesser numbers.



Image Citation: Robert Vid├ęki, Doronicum Kft., Bugwood.org

Whitebeams are not commonly found growing in the United States as they are not native to our area.  When found they are primarily planted in park settings or as specimen trees but never growing wild.  

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