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Shrub or tree to 7.5 m. Branchlets slender, reddish brown with grey patches. Buds ~0.7 cm long, conical to ovoid, dark red with reddish brown hairs on the margins and apices. Leaves to 13 cm long, with 12–19 pairs of leaflets. Leaflets 2.1–5.5 × 0.8–1.7 cm, broadly oblong to elliptic, upper surface glabrous, lower surface not pap illose, margins dentate to the base; leaves turning reddish pink in autumn. Inflorescences lax with few flowers; flowers pink. Fruit initially dull crimson, but ripening to pink then white, apple-shaped, 0.85 × 1 cm; calyx lobes slightly fleshy with three distinct veins, carpels three to four (to five). Tetraploid apomict (2n = 68). McAllister 2005a. Distribution NEPAL: Khumbu. Habitat Betula-Rhododendron forest. USDA Hardiness Zone 6. Conservation status Not evaluated. Illustration McAllister 2005a; NT805.
Sorbus khumbuensis is a member of the S. microphylla aggregate of similar apomictic microspecies (see p. 807), but differs in several ways and has therefore been described and named as a distinct entity within the group. The type and only collection was made by Tony Schilling (Schilling 2341) in the Khumbu area of Nepal in 1978. It has proven to be a successful and easily grown garden tree, apparently tolerating drier conditions than other members of the S. microphylla group. From them it may be distinguished by its 12 to 19 pairs of leaflets, which turn an excellent red in autumn, its pink flowers, and fruits that turn from crimson to almost pure white as they mature (McAllister 2005a). Trees are well established at Wakehurst Place, Ness and other collections, but it deserves to be widely planted and is ideal for a small garden.