Sorbus aria   Common Whitebeam C DD N

Sorbus aria

This is the commonest Whitebeam and the one which causes confusion when seeking the rarer species in the Avon Gorge. Obviously it is a member of the aria aggregate and so has red fruits which have numerous lenticels (small white scabs). The leaves can vary quite a bit but generally have rounded shallow lobes and a wavy or "flouncy" edge to the leaf. There are usually between 10 and 14 (9 to 15) pairs of veins and the leaves are longer than wide. The leaves are also densely tomentose (white furry coating) on the underside but this cannot easily be seen in the older leaves of this photo

The tree itself can be a large one up to 15m in height. The variation in appearance of Sorbus aria can in part be attributed to its capacity to reproduce sexually but the degree to which apomixis (seed production without fertilisation by pollen) or meiosis (production of a gamete cell with half the normal {diploid} number of chromosomes) or sexual reproduction occur within the Sorbus genus as a whole is a matter for further research.

Although uncommon in northern Scotland and quite rare in Ireland, Sorbus aria occurs in large numbers in England, particularly in the south and in mid Scotland.

Leigh Woods, Avon Gorge 10th September 2006

Added on 27th September 2006,updated 10th February 2012

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