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Irish Whitebeam tree ... Sorbus hibernica ... an Fioncholl


 
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James Kilkelly
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 16, 2007 3:50 pm    Post subject: Irish Whitebeam tree ... Sorbus hibernica ... an Fioncholl Reply with quote

Irish Whitebeam tree ... Sorbus hibernica ... an Fioncholl

In a previous article I wrote our native Mountain ash (Sorbus aucuparia), this time it's the turn of that other native Sorbus, Sorbus hibernica, also known as the Whitebeam.


Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Rosales
Family: Rosaceae
Subfamily: Maloideae
Genus: Sorbus
Subgenus: hibernica

A rare occurrence.
The Whitebeam is a small sized deciduous tree, growing eventually to a height of 12 metres and a canopy spread of 8 metres.
You may have to do quite a bit of searching throughout Ireland to find mature examples of this tree, as it is a threatened variety which is very scattered in its distribution, the prime examples of its occurrence can be seen within the Midlands of Ireland. If you're up for a hunt, the places to search for specimens are usually quite rocky, as it tends to do well on a chalky quick draining soil. So, visit a rocky hill or glen from May to September, with the best time to spot Sorbus Hibernica occurring when it is in full leaf often supplemented by flower or fruit.

Break from the normal green.
The first thing that will strike you about the native Whitebeam is its foliage covering, these stalk-less leaves are silvery white on top with a thick covering of white downy hairs on the undersides. Both sides of the leaves when blown by the wind give the impression of a white or pale tree. Even before the leaves unfurl, they break from the bud standing tightly bound and upright like many white candles on a candelabra. Because of these pale tones, I always had a liking for the Whitebeam, as it tended to break up the monotony of so many green leaved trees within a site, often acting as an attention grabbing focal point. In addition interesting colour of the foliage, it also has a sharp textural element, stemming from the sharp looking teeth edging all along the borders of the oval (8cm) leaves.
The leaves are joined from May to June by flat-topped clusters of small white flowers, which I feel are quite inconspicuous due to the camouflaging effect of the foliage. This is not the case with the following berries, however, as these are a red, deepening to scarlet when ripe from September to October

Plant your own Whitebeam.
We must not forget the supporting act for all this fine foliage, flower and fruit, it is of course the trees well defined, smooth-grey trunk, yet another valid reason why it was landed with its common name.As with most of the native trees I have covered over the past few weeks, this tree is another tough hardy individual. Whitebeams tolerance of exposed conditions is shown by its occurrence along certain parts of the Antrim Coast.

Trying to find a few specimens of Sorbus hibernica in your local garden centre or nursery can often be a fruitless exercise as it is rarely commercially available, you can instead plant Sorbus aria. This is a close relative whose main differences are the teeth of its leaf-margins are swept upwards and it has fewer hairs on the underside of its leaves.

However, if you press your garden centre they will surely be able to source some Sorbus hibernica for you, although you may have to wait until the next dormant planting season (mid-October to mid-March). It will be worth the wait. Smile



Growing information at a glance.
Deciduous
Slow-growing
Expected height: 10m / Expected spread: 8m over 50 years
Grow in full sun or very light shade
Tolerant of most soils.
Flowers white from April to May
Main pests are Aphids and Blister mite
Main diseases are Canker and Fireblight.

Research more in your own time......
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Also try here...... Best Tree Identification Books

Back to native Irish trees.

Whitebeam Images courtesy
Zelimir Borzan, University of Zagreb, Croatia
www.forestryimages.org

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Last edited by James Kilkelly on Thu Jan 20, 2011 6:05 pm; edited 1 time in total
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bthorn
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 18, 2010 11:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The Coillte "Our Trees" booklet says that there are 6 native whitebeam species :-

- S. aria (commonest type across Europe)
- S. rupicola (on cliffs)
- S. devoniensis (v. common in SW England)
- S. latifolia (broadleaved)
- S. anglica (apparently found only in Kerry)
- S. hibernica (only whitebeam uniquely native to Ireland)

All Coillte Nurseries has is the sorbus aria.
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Foxylock
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 18, 2010 11:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Has anyone ever heard this tree being called the " harvest apple tree " ? This is what the old folks around the home place call it.
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bthorn
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 23, 2010 11:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Never heard of the harvest apple tree description.

Anyone know where to source s. hibernica or s. anglica in Ireland ?
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sapling
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 25, 2011 7:01 am    Post subject: Growing whitebeam from seed Reply with quote

I have a 7m whitebeam, is there anything special i could do to grow it from seed?
limerick area
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bthorn
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 25, 2011 10:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

All that I know is such measures for stratification, maceration, etc as I've read in "Our Trees".

It is best that you discuss this with a real nursery man.
I'll PM you on this.
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James Kilkelly
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 25, 2011 11:43 am    Post subject: Re: Growing whitebeam from seed Reply with quote

Quote:
I have a 7m whitebeam, is there anything special i could do to grow it from seed?
limerick area


Explained here in my article........ Grow native trees from seed, pre-treatment and sowing tips.


How long to pre-treat your deeply dormant tree seeds.
How long the pot remains in this location depends entirely on the seeds it contains, for example ash seeds need at least a years outdoors pre-treatment including a full summer for its embryo to grow. So the seed should be ready for sowing the second march after collection/pre-treatment.

Others for removing from the pre-treatment containers then sowing the second march are yew, hawthorn, holly and the dog rose (Rosa canina), a shrub, but one of our native nonetheless. The tree seeds that just require one winter chilling followed by sowing the following march include elderberry guelder rose (Viburnum opulus), rowan/mountain ash, whitebeam, bird cherry/wild cherry, juniper, hazel and blackthorn.

Remember that while you are pre-treating your seeds in containers over the weeks and months, you should water the mix if it shows signs of drying out. Neglecting this and allowing the seeds to dry out will result in poor germination down the line.

Also be aware that seeds, especially those that are nut-like (hazel etc.) should be protected against foraging mice and birds. A simple solution to this is to use galvanised metal mesh with very small gaps to cover your containers, mesh similar to the builder's diamond mesh that is often used in plastering jobs is very suitable for this purpose. All this being well, you must now be patient, and bide your time until your seeds are ripe for sowing.

Remember outdoor treatment = Ash, yew, hawthorn, holly, dog rose (Rosa canina), elderberry, guelder rose, rowan/mountain ash, whitebeam, bird cherry/wild cherry, juniper, yew, hazel and blackthorn.

The rest of the growing information is contained within the linked article.

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sapling
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 25, 2011 12:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

thats great wish me luck in sept with the seed hunt (surrounded by bryers)
must call in to that garden centre next time im passing thanks bthorn
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