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Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Foragers Diary; Wild Service Tree

Today I'd like to introduce you to the wild service tree (Sorbus torminalis), this species is fairly uncommon in the UK now and so they are normally only found in the remaining pockets of ancient woodland.

At Riddy Wood, which is an ancient woodland, we are lucky that we have quite a few, I always knew that there were a few but recently as we have worked on the management plans for the wood and started this winters coppicing we have spotted a lot more of them. They show up all the more in their beautiful autumn colours;

The bronze coloured leaves of the wild service contrast strongly with the yellow and green of the elm at Riddy Wood.  

Up closer the wild service looks almost red or pink.

The fruit of the wild service tree are also known as chequers and have been used in the past to flavour drinks, however the trees in Riddy Wood have been overshadowed by the oak and ash canopy and seem to produce very little fruit. The wood is used in some countries as a timber crop but here in the UK where there is so little of it now it's wood has no commercial value. 

Wild Service Fruit 'Chequers' are never large but our trees at Riddy Wood don't have many on at all. 

The unique leaf shape of the Wild Service Tree. 

You can see the much larger ash trees shading out the humble wild service trees underneath. 
 I look forward to being able to share some experiments with wild service fruit with you next year if the crop improves once our management of the woods open up the canopy and provide more light for the understory.


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