Swedish whitebeam

Alisier de Suède

Sorbus intermedia (Ehrh.) Pers.Rosaceae (rose family)

Origin: Natural hybrid from Europe


Swedish whitebeam is a small tree, occasionally a shrub, with a wide, short trunk.

Read more about Tree, Bark, Twigs


Leaves have small, pinnate lobes and dense woolly hairs on the underside.

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Small white flowers are borne in flat-topped clusters.

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Fruits are red, oval and fleshy.

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Swedish whitebeam is a small tree, occasionally a shrub, growing up to 12 m (40').

It has a wide short trunk and a rounded crown.

Young bark is smooth with abundant pores (lenticels).

Older bark is dark, flaking to expose patches of lighter inner bark.

Twigs are reddish-brown with pores (lenticels) and reddish-green buds that curve inward at the tip.

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Leaves are oval, pinnately lobed, 6 - 10 cm (2 3/8" - 4") long, with fine teeth along the edge.

Leaves are glossy green on the upper surface and denesly white-wooly haired on the underside and on the short stalk.

Leaves have an alternate arrangement on the branch.

In the fall, leaves turn brown and yellow.

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Flowers are borne in compact clusters 8 - 10 cm (3 1/8" - 4") wide.

Each flower has 5 white petals and many white stamens.

Flowers appear with the leaves in spring.

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Fruits are red, fleshy, oval, about 13 mm (1/2") across, borne in clusters.

As fruits mature they turn from green through orange to red.

Fruits may remain on the tree after the leaves have dropped.

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Swedish whitebeam is native to northwestern Europe and can withstand harsh climatic conditions. It has long been planted as a cultivated tree in Europe and has become naturalised in Great Britain.

Triple hybrid

Swedish whitebeam is a triple hybrid, the result of cross-breeding between three species: common mountain-ash (Sorbus aucuparia), whitebeam (Sorbus aria), and wild service-tree (Sorbus torminalis).

Derivation of names

The genus name, Sorbus, is the classical Latin name of the mountain-ash, a close relative of whitebeams. The species name, intermedia, indicates that, as a hybrid, Swedish whitebeam has characteristics intermediate to those of its parent species.

Related species

Swedish whitebeam is similar to Finnish whitebeam (also known as Swedish service-tree, Sorbus hybrida) which has similarly lobed leaves except that the lobes at the base have transformed into small leaflets.

Wildlife value

Swedish whitebeam fruits are eaten by birds, which distribute the seeds.

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Swedish whitebeam IN TORONTO

Swedish whitebeam's place in Toronto's urban forest

Swedish whitebeam is occasionally planted in Toronto's parks and cemeteries but is not as common as the closely related mountain ashes.

Landscape value and potential for home planting

Swedish whitebeam's flowers and fruits make it an attractiv ornamental tree for for home planting. Its small size makes it suitable for home planting. It is tolerant of urban conditions.

Pests and diseases:

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WHERE CAN I SEE Swedish whitebeam?

Find trees on Tree Tour maps at Canadian Tree Tours:

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