Sorbus umbellata (Desf.) Fritsch

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Credits

Article from Bean's Trees and Shrubs Hardy in the British Isles

Recommended citation
'Sorbus umbellata' from the website Trees and Shrubs Online (treesandshrubsonline.org/articles/sorbus/sorbus-umbellata/). Accessed 2020-09-25.

Genus

Synonyms

  • Crataegus umbellata Desf.
  • S. flabellifolia (Spach) Hedl.
  • Crataegus flabellifolia Spach
  • S. aria var. flabellifolia (Spach) Wenzig

Glossary

apex
(pl. apices) Tip. apical At the apex.
cuneate
Wedge-shaped.
ellipsoid
An elliptic solid.
fastigiate
(of a tree or shrub) Narrow in form with ascending branches held more or less parallel to the trunk.
glabrous
Lacking hairs smooth. glabrescent Becoming hairless.
globose
globularSpherical or globe-shaped.
ovoid
Egg-shaped solid.
petiole
Leaf stalk.
simple
(of a leaf) Unlobed or undivided.
tomentum
Dense layer of soft hairs. tomentose With tomentum.
truncate
Appearing as if cut off.
variety
(var.) Taxonomic rank (varietas) grouping variants of a species with relatively minor differentiation in a few characters but occurring as recognisable populations. Often loosely used for rare minor variants more usefully ranked as forms.

References

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Credits

Article from Bean's Trees and Shrubs Hardy in the British Isles

Recommended citation
'Sorbus umbellata' from the website Trees and Shrubs Online (treesandshrubsonline.org/articles/sorbus/sorbus-umbellata/). Accessed 2020-09-25.

A small tree in the wild, with a rounded crown, or a shrub; twigs reddish brown, lenticellate, glabrous; winter-buds roundish, about 14 in. long, glabrous or downy. Leaves simple, 1 to 234 in. long, varying on the same plant from obovate with a cuneate base – almost fan-shaped – to a more rounded shape, glabrous and slightly glossy above, densely and closely covered beneath with a vividly white tomentum, deeply and jaggedly toothed or double-toothed on the rounded or almost truncate upper part of the leaf, lateral veins in five to eight pairs; petiole 14 to 34 in. long. Flowers in late May or early June, pure white, about 38 in. wide, in loose clusters about 3 in. wide. Anthers pink. Styles two. Fruits ovoid to globose, about 12 in. long, said to be red on wild plants.

Native of Asia Minor, the Caucasus, the Crimea and parts of the Balkans; cultivated since early in the 19th century under various names. Although uncommon in gardens, it is one of the most ornamental of the Aria group in its jagged leaves intensely white beneath. An example in the Winkworth Arboretum, planted by Dr Fox in 1938, is an intricately branched shrubby tree about 20 ft high (1979). In cultivation S. umbellata ripens its fruits very late – in early November – and perhaps not at all in some seasons. Dr Fox describes the fruits of the Winkworth tree as greenish yellow except on the side exposed to the sun which is red. But plants in their native habitat may become fully red.

S. graeca (Spach) Kotschy Crataegus graeca Spach; Pyrus aria var. cretica Lindl.; S. cretica (Lindl.) Fritsch; S. umbellata var. cretica (Lindl.) Schneid. – This species, often considered to be no more than a variety of S. umbellata, differs in the more numerously toothed leaves with up to nine pairs of veins, more thinly and grey-hairy beneath. The leaves in the cultivated form are obovate, rounded at the apex, cuneate at the base, of rather thick texture, about 212 in. long. Fruits dark red, with very few scattered lenticels, globose or broadly oblong-ellipsoid, about 12 in. long, ripening in September.

Despite its name, S. graeca is of wide distribution, from Iraq, the Lebanon and the Caucasus through Asia Minor and S.E. Europe to eastern Central Europe, west to Sicily and N. Africa. It was in cultivation in Britain as early as 1830 but the present stock is believed to derive from an introduction by E. K. Balls from Anatolia in the 1930s. The description of the foliage given above is taken from the cultivated form; in wild plants there is variation in the shape and relative width of the leaves.

In the Winkworth Arboretum this species and S. umbellata were planted by Dr Fox side by side and make an interesting and instructive pair. At least in these two trees there is a marked difference in habit as well as in the other characters mentioned, S. graeca being of rather fastigiate habit in contrast to the bushy habit of S. umbellata.

Considered as a variety of S. umbellata this sorbus would take the name S. umbellata var. cretica, but S. graeca is its correct name at the specific level.

S. rupicola (Syme) Hedl. Pyrus rupicola Syme; S. aria var. salicifolia Myrin ex Hartman; S. salicifolia (Myrin) Hedl. – This species is not cultivated for ornament to any extent but deserves mention as a native of the British Isles (it also occurs in Scandinavia and Estonia). It is similar to S. graeca, but the fruits are more lenticellate and the teeth of the leaves are curved on their outer margin, pointing forward towards the apex of the leaf, whereas in S. graeca they point more or less in the same line as the lateral ribs (Warburg). Also S. rupicola is apparently always tetraploid and apomictic, while S. graeca is said to be mainly diploid and to reproduce sexually. In the British Isles S. rupicola occurs locally in rocky and often inaccessible places, usually on limestone, in Devon, Wales, the Pennines, Scotland and parts of Ireland.

Some minor and very local species of this complex were described by E. F. Warburg in 1957, and descriptions will be found in Clapham, Tutin and Warburg, Flora of the British Isles: S. eminens (Wye Valley and Avon Gorge, type-locality Offa’s Dyke, Tidenham); S. hibernica (local in central Ireland); S. lancastriensis (Lancashire and Westmorland, type-locality Humphrey Head); S. porrigentiformis (N. Devon, the Mendips, Wye Valley, S.Wales, type-locality Offa’s Dyke, Tidenham); S. vexans (Lynmouth to Culbone, type-locality a wood between Lynmouth and Watersmeet). Apart from the last named, all are confined to limestone, and all are known or presumed to be tetraploid or triploid apomicts. Described by Warburg later is: S. wilmottiana (type-locality above the cliffs of the Avon Gorge near Clifton).

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