Hainault Forest Website

Tree identification

Wild Service or Chequer Tree Sorbus torminalis

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Green, rounded alternate buds. Twigs brown and shiny.

WILD SERVICE TREE

Sorbus torminalis

Leaf simple pinnate, deeply lobed. Uncommon. An indicator tree of ancient woodland.

One near "The Camelot", another in Chigwell Row Reserve.

BOLE Grey bark in younger trees. This one photographed near The Camelot. The bark in older trees has a small rectangular scaly appearance. Photographed in Lord's Bushes, Epping Forest
Wild Service tree leaves.     Photo: Vic George

Flowers of Wild Service tree

Photo: Ron Andrews

Unlike fruits of other Sorbus species which are red the fruits or chequers are a reddish brown. They are very sugary and are best gathered after the autumn frosts.

Photo: Ron Andrews

 

Wild Service Tree or Chequer Sorbus torminalis

 

The Wild Service Tree is found in most counties south of Cumbria but not in great numbers. Its main concentration is in the south-east where it favours the heavy clays. It is found locally in good numbers as mature trees, saplings and suckers. Many of the mature trees would have arisen from suckers from an earlier tree, and the lineage could go back hundreds or even thousands of years, as studies in Epping Forest have found. Mature and suckered trees  can be found in Epping Forest particularly Lord's Bushes and on Staples Hill. It is also well distributed in the Hainault Forest area - in Claybury Woods, Chigwell Row Wood, Lambourne Wood near the Camelot, and Ape's Grove near Abridge. All of these woodlands are ancient in origin and there has been continuity of woodland there.  In the south-east the local name for the tree is Chequers and this is reflected in the name of Public Houses such as The Chequers at Barkingside, Ilford, Essex.