A photograph of leaves from the whitebeam tree at Colletts wood

Species Name: Sorbus aria

The whitebeam is a deciduous tree native to southern England, commonly planted in gardens and parks but a rarity in wild woodland. It can grow up to 15m tall and lives for around 70-80 years.

How to Identify
Trunk -
Whitebeam bark is smooth and grey in colour. Young shoots are hairy, with shiny red-brown buds that are found on alternate sides
Common whitebeam late Spring. You can see the shoots on alternate sides and the smooth grey branch
Leaves -
Whitebeam leaves are thick. They are oval shaped, with an irregular serrated edge. The top side of the leaf is deep green and smooth to the touch, and the underside is pale and covered in white hairs that feel like felt.
A close up of whitebeam leaves
Fruit & flowers -
Five-petalled flowers appear in May, to be pollinated by insects through the summer. Once pollinated, the flowers develop into bright red berries.
A close up of a cluster of whitebeam flowers with green leaves in the spring
Where to find...

Although native to southern England, the whitebeam is found all over the country. They are rare in the wild, but can be found throughout the woodlands in the Heart of England Forest.

Mythology & symbolism...

Anglo-Saxons were known to used whitebeam as a boundary-marker. Due to its believed magical properties, whitebeam is used to make wands and staffs.

Uses for this tree...

Chairs, beams, cogs and wheels were all traditionally made from whitebeam wood. This is because the wood is hard and fine-grained, making it easy to work with.

The whitebeam's value:

The caterpillars of several moths feed on the whitebeam’s leaves. Many species of birds feed on the berries, and pollinators are attracted by the nectar produced by the flowers.
Did you know?

Although whitebeam is sometimes known as “common whitebeam”, the tree is not common at all.

3% of the trees we are planting in the Forest this season are whitebeam trees.

A close up of a branch of a whitebeam tree full of white spring flowers