Wild Service tree

Sorbus torminalis

  1. Wildlife
  2. Trees and shrubs
  3. Wild Service tree


Once widespread, if seldom abundant, the Wild Service tree in the forests of England and Wales. But as these were cleared, it became rarer and is now confined to ancient woodlands and hedges, such as those of royal hunting forests, particularly on heavy clay soils. Inconspicuous for much of the year, their white blossom in spring and crimson leaves in autumn give them away.

How to identify

Wild Service trees can be recognised by their jagged, palmate leaves (a little like Maple leaves), white flowers and small, apple-like fruit.

Where to find it

Widespread in England, but not abundant.


When to find it

  • January
  • February
  • March
  • April
  • May
  • June
  • July
  • August
  • September
  • October
  • November
  • December

How can people help

The Wildlife Trusts manage many woodland nature reserves sympathetically for all kinds of species. A mix of coppicing, scrub-cutting, ride maintenance and non-intervention all help woodland wildlife to thrive. You can help too: volunteer for your local Wildlife Trust and you could be involved in everything from traditional forest crafts to raising awareness about woodland animals.

Local information

The stronghold of the wild service tree is in the south of England although it is also present in the lowlands of Hereford and Gloucestershire as well as Worcestershire, particularly in the west of the latter county.

Wild service, also known as the chequers or checkers tree, is an indicator of ancient woodlands (a wood that has been in existence from before 1600AD) and can also be found in hedgerows which may have been edges of wooded areas.

Within Worcestershire there are a few pockets of wild service tree but one of the best places to find them is at Worcestershire Wildlife Trust’s Tiddesley Wood reserve.

Species information

Common name
Wild Service tree
Latin name
Sorbus torminalis
Trees and shrubs
Height: 10-25m
Conservation status