Wild Service Tree (Sorbus torminalis)

The Wild Service Tree (Sorbus torminalis), also known as the "Chequers" tree, is a native tree that grows to around 15m (50ft) tall.

  • Wild Service Tree  -  Sorbus Torminalis  -  Leaves
  • Wild Service Tree  -  Sorbus Torminalis  -  Fruit
  • Wild Service Tree  -  Sorbus Torminalis  -  Mature Tree

Useful info about Wild Service Tree trees

Latin NameSorbus torminalis
TypeDeciduous (loses its leaves in winter)
HeightCan grow up to 20 m (65ft)
SpreadThe branches can spread out to 10 m (32ft)
Soil Types PreferredClay, Loam, Sand
Locations SuitableFarmland, Gardens, Hedgerows, Parks
FruitSeeds ripen from September to October

Similar Species


Wild Service Trees aren't commonplace. They are usually found in ancient woods and hedgerows mainly towards the east of the UK.

They are a large tree with a round, open crown and they usually reach heights of 15m to 20 m tall.

The glossy leaves, which are similar to maple, turn from mid-green to wonderful reds in the autumn.

It has white flowers in spring which become tiny, edible brown fruit when over-ripe.

The fruits, also known as "chequers", are said to taste like dates.


The fruit from the Wild Service Tree can be stored in a cool, dry place until it is almost, but not quite, going rotten.

At this stage the fruit has a delicious taste, somewhat like a tropical fruit, and it is rich in vitamin C.


Any uses for trees or tree extracts, whether edible or medicinal, have not been tried or tested by EFORESTS.

Please take caution and seek proper advice before attempting any recipes or medicinal extracts from any of the trees listed on our site.

Culture and Symbolism

The Wild service tree is also known as the 'Chequers tree' and its fruits were once regularly used to make alcohol. Many pubs and inns are also called Chequers (as well as the Prime Minister's country residence).

It's unclear whether the inns gave their name to the fruits or the fruits gave their name to the inns.

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