Sorbus aria, common Whitebeam seeds

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Sorbus aria


The rarely occurring Sorbus aria belongs to the Rosaceae and is better known as common Whitebeam. It is native to Europe where it occurs everywhere except South East Europe. Sorbus aria grows mostly as a tree. In higher altitudes it occurs as a shrub. The common Whitebeam reaches a height of about 10 m. The bark is smooth and gets cracks with ageing. The common Whitebeam can reach a age of 200 years. Sorbus aria is rarely cultivated for timber production. Mainly it is cultivated to raise the biodiversity in mixed forests. The leaves of the common Whitebeam are ovate and the leaf margin is serrate. The bottom side of the leaf has white hairs. As the leaf ages the hairs get less. The leaves are the reason why the plant is called "Whitebeam". This means white and shiny. The flowers stand together in an umbel. They are white, yellowish or creamy in color. The single flower of the inflorescence are just 1,5 mm in diameter. The flowers are favored by bees. The fruit is a red to orange berry. Eaten raw it can lead to stomach ache. That is due to the sorbic acid the berries contain. Cooked as jam the berries can be eaten. However they taste quite stale. The fruits taste sour and mealy. The fruit were dried and milled in former times to use it as an alternative to flour to bake bread. The fruits stay at the tree over winter and serve as food for birds if they are not harvested. The common Whitebeam has deep roots and can resist strong winds. The seeds of the common Whitebeam need to be stratified. Therefore the seeds in the moist substrate should be put into the fridge for about 3 month. After that cold period germination starts at room temperature after some times. Germination time varies. The adult tree prefers a light place.

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