Sorbus domestica 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Plantae Tracheophyta Magnoliopsida Rosales Rosaceae

Scientific Name: Sorbus domestica L.
Regional Assessments:
Common Name(s):
English True Service Tree
Cormus domestica (L.) Spach
Mespilus domestica (L.) All.
Sorbus syrmiensis Kit.
Taxonomic Source(s): The Plant List. 2013. The Plant List Version 1.1. Available at: (Accessed: July 2016).

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2018
Date Assessed: 2017-10-18
Assessor(s): Wilson, B.
Reviewer(s): Oldfield, S.
Contributor(s): Beech, E. & Rivers, M.C.
Sorbus domestica is a tree or shrub with a widespread range in central and southern Europe as well as Northern Africa and Asiatic Turkey. Despite being recorded as rare in many countries in Europe (Germany, Switzerland etc.), there are estimates of the global population size of at least 17,500 trees. However, little information is available on possible population declines of population trends in the last three generations. It is listed as held in several ex situ collections. Despite being listed as threatened in many national red lists, the species does not qualify for the thresholds on a global scale. It is listed here as Least Concern. More information is needed on possible threats and population trends. Also, further clarification on its true natural range, may alter the range and population size for this assessment.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:Sorbus domestica is found in central and southern Europe, with its greatest population centered in the Balkan peninsula, Italy and southern France. This species is also found in Turkey and North Africa. It has been introduced to many areas including the Russian Federation and the Czech Republic and Slovakia. It occurs up to 1,250 m in the Pyrenees (Rich et al. 2010). It has also been recorded from Britain, although the source may be of Roman origin (Hampton and Kay 1995). It is not clear how much is natural distribution, as it has been spread through cultivation since Roman times (Rotach 2003).
Countries occurrence:
Albania; Algeria; Austria; Bosnia and Herzegovina; Bulgaria; Croatia; Cyprus; France (Corsica, France (mainland)); Germany; Greece (Greece (mainland)); Hungary; Italy (Italy (mainland), Sardegna, Sicilia); Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of; Moldova; Montenegro; Morocco; Romania; Serbia (Serbia); Slovakia; Slovenia; Spain (Spain (mainland)); Turkey (Turkey-in-Asia, Turkey-in-Europe); Ukraine (Krym)
Czech Republic; Russian Federation (South European Russia)
Present - origin uncertain:
United Kingdom (Great Britain)
Additional data:
Estimated area of occupancy (AOO) - km2:2296
Upper elevation limit (metres):1250
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:There are at least 17,500 known trees which does not include larger subpopulations in France, Italy, Hungary, Bulgaria, Romania and Turkey (Paganová 2008). In Germany over 6,000 trees are recorded (Steffens and Zander 2001). The species is considered very rare in many central European countries (Rotach 2003). It grows mostly as a solitary tree in vineyards, fruit orchards and at the edge of grazing fields. The population numbers of this species in Northern Africa and Turkey remain unknown.
Current Population Trend:Unknown
Additional data:
Number of mature individuals:17500

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:Sorbus domestica is a tree that can grow up to 24 m tall. This tree suckers from the roots and has spreading branches. It is found in a range of habitats: in woodlands, open heathland, in hedges, mountain ledges, rocks and screes. It often colonises new land, occurring in wasteland and disturbed areas. It occurs on a wide range of soil types, mostly in areas of higher rainfall. It is a stress-tolerant competitor but is susceptible to grazing (Rich et al. 2010). The seeds are dispersed by birds and mammals (e.g. wild boar), however the establishment rate from seeds is low. The tree also frequently regenerates by root suckers. It is long-lived and often reaches 200 years of age, occasionally up to 400 or more (Enescu et al. 2016).
Generation Length (years):200

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: The fruits of this species can be used to make apple-wine or brandy. The wood of this tree is very hard and is one of the most expensive timbers used in furniture production. The wood has also been used to make rulers, gauge-sticks and wheel hubs (Kausch-Blecken von Schmeling 2000). The species has been in cultivation since Roman times and is grown for ornamental purposes (Enescu et al. 2016), for timber, and for its fruit.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): There is a loss of genetic diversity (George et al. 2015) due to population declines and human caused disturbance. The subpopulations are threatened by forestry, silvicultural practices, and habitat conversion (Rotach 2003).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: This species is considered Endangered in Switzerland (Moser et al. 2002), Near Threatened in Hungary (Király 2007), Critically Endangered in the United Kingdom (Stroh et al. 2014), and Least Concern across its European range (Rivers and Beech 2016). Due to its rarity in certain regions conservation action of replanting and genetic analysis is taking place (Steffens and Zander 2001). Sorbus domestica is reported as found in 85 ex situ collections (BGCI 2017).

Citation: Wilson, B. 2018. Sorbus domestica. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2018: e.T79921100A119836528. . Downloaded on 14 August 2018.
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