True Service trees (Sorbus domestica)

I’m very excited to be growing True Service trees from seed this year – my first seedlings are growing well. True Service trees grow very large and I’m more familiar with them in London, at St Ann’s Hospital site in Tottenham where there are some amazing mature trees with huge amounts of fruit, usually left to rot on the ground. However, they apparently also thrive in Cornwall and one seemingly wild tree was found on a cliff edge on the Upper Camel Estuary according to references found and shown on the Rowans, Whitebeams and Service Trees blog. The trees have self seeded close to the site in Tottenham and also some seedling trees from seed from the site have been planted in orchards close by including Lordship Rec Orchard, Tottenham. The fact that they seem so easy to grow from seed led me to give it a try this year too, so I got to eat the yummy soft bletted fruit and use the seed too.

Thanks to some long standing community fruit enthusiasts and harvesters Urban Harvest working around north London, these True Service Trees are now a little more known in the area, and celebrated, though still the fruit remains largely unharvested on the floor and generally is quite rare and planted as an ornamental. Thanks to Gemma, from Urban Harvest UK, for championing these fruits and trees and also maintaining really useful resources about the sorb fruits from 2010 on their now defunct, but extremely useful website.

Whilst they’ve been on my radar for a while I’ve only just got around to growing some from seed which I hope to plant out in Cornish orchards in future years.

The True Service tree, Sorbus domestica, is also known as whitty pear, or sorb tree. The fruit needs to be ‘bletted’, like medlar fruit, and is soft and delicious to eat. It can apparently be cooked into a nice syrup too, see the link below.

Do you grow True Service trees in Cornwall? Have you come across any wild ones? Use the fruit? – please get in touch!

Useful resources from Urban Harvest UK website:
Making syrup from ripe (bletted) sorbs
Comparison of the sorb fruits from 15 different trees at St Ann’s Hospital site, Tottenham, N17

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