Sorbus anglica

Discussion in 'HortForum' started by nic, Mar 21, 2012.

  1. nic

    nic Active Member 10 Years

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    The Literary and Philosophical Society of Newcastle-on-Tyne, NE England has, in a recent newsletter, said it had a sapling of the English Whitebeam growing on the roof, which has apparently been moved to a better home.

    This seems way outside the usual range of this tree, of which there seem to be very few anyway. I know the railway line runs at the back of the building, and that seeds are spreand in the slipstream of trains, but not a berry, surely? And it seems too far for bird delivery.

    How old might this be? It's about four times the height of the herring gull sitting next to it, on a disused chimney.
     
  2. Michael F

    Michael F Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    Any pics of the plant? And what justification for their identification do they give?

    The commonest whitebeams around Newcastle are S. aria, S. intermedia, and S. mougeotii; of these, S. mougeotii looks the most similar to S. anglica.

    Four times the height of a Herring Gull would make it around 5 or 6 years old (but could be a lot more if its rooting space is very limited). Do they say where it has been moved to? I'd guess the University botanical garden on Claremont Road.
     
  3. nic

    nic Active Member 10 Years

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    The article was about the repair of the roof, rather than the tree. According to my husband, who knows the building very well, (having been a member for the better part of fifty years, he worked out with some despair last night,) this chimney is only visible from the railway line, and the railway company had scaffolding up for something else, so the Lit and Phil shared it while it was there.

    I'd assumed they found somebody who knew what they were talking about, or they'd have just said "a whitebeam", wouldn't they?

    Can't find the pic on the Lit and Phil website, nor in the Chronicle, though that may be me, rather than them.

    We assumed Claremont Road, too, a place I've never been, despite years of visiting Newcastle.
     
  4. Michael F

    Michael F Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    One would assume so; the question is whether the identification was based on genetic analysis (should be reliable), or on visual study of the leaf characters (much more open to error!). If the latter, I'd suspect it'll prove to be S. mougeotii (widely planted in civic planting schemes mis-sold as S. intermedia, but almost always unrecognised).
    It isn't easy to get in! Even less so now, since they put a new high security gate on the entrance to the adjacent depot which you have to go through to get to it.
     
  5. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    In my experience there is no shortage of those who fire off erroneous plant identifications, all the more so that the internet has come to the fore - it appears people often do an image search and reach false conclusions based on quick(?) looks at individual photographs, without any reading up to make certain.
     
  6. nic

    nic Active Member 10 Years

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    That's probably the truth of it, and I got all excited about a rare tree turning up, without proper information. You'd have thought that a scholarly institution would be more careful.

    I'm very fond of whitebeams; they are used on many streets here, and there is a very fine one two doors down from us, which gives us romantic views of the full moon through its bare branches in winter, and is sometimes full of fieldfares in autumn. When it is in leaf I shall go out with books and find out which one it is.
     
  7. Michael F

    Michael F Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    If it is a large, old specimen, I'll guess it'll most likely be S. intermedia, very common in towns in NE England and E Scotland. S. aria is also possible though. S. mougeotii hasn't been around long enough for old specimens, mostly planted since about 1980. For comparison, leaves of S. intermedia (left) and S. mougeotii (right):
     

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  8. nic

    nic Active Member 10 Years

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    Thank you so much!

    It was planted about 1975, I should say, when this terrace was new. It is as high as the house. I was speaking to the woman who planted it, and as this was the beginning of her husband's career they wouldn't have had much money for a large specimen. More important to her at the time was a gate to keep the children in.

    There's not a leaf on it at the moment, though buds are beginning to show, it's always last in leaf, and first to lose them. The leaves are very pale, and very silvery underneath, and, from looking in books and on-line, it might be S aria 'Lutescens', but I can't be sure that my memory of the leaf shape is accurate. It certainly has that elegant shape, it looks as if it has been combed thoroughly, even though it was badly cut back about ten years ago.

    It gives me pleasure every day, in all seasons, even when it is full of magpies, or we have to rescue cats from it. I'm ashamed to have taken so long to try to identify it fully, I hadn't thought through that there were other whitebeams until I read the newsletter.
     
  9. Debby

    Debby Active Member 10 Years

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    Nice to hear about the birds you have over there! I had to look up fieldfare! We do have whitebeams over here. The first one I saw was on a Vancouver boulevard near a soccer field (ours was the visiting team). I phoned the City to ask the identity of those lovely trees; the felty white undersides are unique.
     
  10. Michael F

    Michael F Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    Got hold of a copy of the Lit & Phil newsletter (Nov 2011 issue); it doesn't say anything about how the tree was identified (just says "The tree proved to be an English Whitebeam, Sorbus anglica" and has a minute photo), or what happened to it after removal. There's nothing further in the March 2012 issue either.

    Might email the Lit & Phil to see if they have any more details.
     
  11. nic

    nic Active Member 10 Years

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    I thought of doing that, but you will have a more authoritative voice, since you know what you're talking about. I'd be very interested to see what they have to say.

    Getting the March newsletter caused my husband to dig out the earlier ones and read them properly, which is where all this started...
     

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