Sorbus Domestica: Characteristics, Habitat, Care, Diseases

Sorbus domestica is a species of tall fruit-bearing deciduous tree that belongs to the Rosaceae family. Commonly known as jerbal, jerbo, common rowan, whistle, sorbeira, sorbo or zurbal, it is a species native to the Mediterranean basin.

It is a highly branched woody plant that reaches 20 m in height. Its leaves composed of 11-15 leaflets form a leafy and rounded crown. The white flowers with five whitish petals are grouped into corymbs. The fruits, known as Azarollas or Serbas, are fleshy yellow-greenish poms.

Sorbus domestica. Source: Octopus [CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)]

It develops in regions with a Mediterranean climate and grows in association with coniferous or hardwood forests. It grows on the banks of springs in mountain areas, at medium or high altitude levels up to 1,600 meters above sea level.

It is a fast growing tree that provides ample and dense shade, requires little maintenance and produces edible fruits. Its wood is highly valued in carpentry for the elaboration of handcrafted carvings, turnery work and joinery pieces.

Its edible fruits are very nutritious due to its high content of vitamins A, B 1 , B 2 and C. In addition, it contains tannins that provide it with antidiarrheal and astringent properties.

Article index

  • one

    General characteristics

    • 1.1

      Appearance

    • 1.2

      Leaves

    • 1.3

      flowers

    • 1.4

      Fruit

  • two

    Taxonomy

    • 2.1

      Synonymy

    • 2.2

      Etymology

  • 3

    Habitat and distribution

  • 4

    Care

    • 4.1

      Multiplication

    • 4.2

      Sowing / planting

    • 4.3

      Location

    • 4.4

      Soils

    • 4.5

      Irrigation

    • 4.6

      Subscriber

    • 4.7

      Pruning

    • 4.8

      Rusticity

  • 5

    Plagues and diseases

  • 6

    References

General characteristics

Appearance

Deciduous tree with an erect trunk, ascending branches and a rounded crown that usually reaches between 15-20 m in height and 6-8 m in diameter. The stem has a grayish, rough and fissured bark, which is easily detached. The branches are tomentose and greenish-yellow in color.

Leaves

The compound and odd-pinnate leaves 20-25 cm long contain 6-8 pairs of seated leaflets 3-5 cm long, lanceolate, acuminate and with serrated margins. The leaflets are greyish-green on the upper side, yellowish and tomentose on the underside. During the fall they turn reddish.

flowers

The small hermaphrodite and actinomorphic flowers of creamy-white tones have 5 sepals, 5 petals and multiple stamens. Flowering occurs during spring, between the months of April and May. The flowers are arranged in open racemose inflorescences or corymbs.

Inflorescences of Sorbus domestica. Source: Prunus-cerasus [CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)]

Fruit

The fruit is a succulent pyriform or rounded pommel 2-3 cm long, yellow-greenish when tender and red-brown when ripe. Known as azarollas, jerbas or rowanberry, they are highly nutritious and are used to make jams or fermented drinks such as vodka.

In this video you can observe this species:

Taxonomy

– Kingdom: Plantae

– Subkingdom: Tracheobionta

– Division: Magnoliophyta

– Class: Magnoliopsida

– Subclass: Rosidae

– Order: Rosales

– Family: Rosaceae

– Subfamily: Maloideae

– Genus: Sorbus

– Subgenus: Cormus

– Species: Sorbus domstica L.

Leaves and fruits of Sorbus domestica. Source: BotBln [CC BY-SA (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)]

Synonymy

Cormus domestica (L.) Spach

Pyrus domestica Ehrh.

Etymology

– Sorbus: the name of the genus comes from the Latin «sorbus», which was the name by which the Romans called the fruit of this tree.

domestica : the specific adjective derives from the Latin «domestica», which means house or home, since the species used to be cultivated near the houses.

Habitat and distribution

The common rowan is a species native to central and southern Europe, northeast of the African continent and southwest Asia. It develops in humid environments of valleys and inlets. It usually grows alone or in small groups, in association with cork oak, coniferous, pine or gall oak forests.

It is located on soils of limestone origin in regions with a Mediterranean climate with mild winters and half-shaded and humid conditions during the summer. Its natural habitat is located on the margins of springs, streams and littoral areas, being its optimum growth temperature of 8-12 ºC.

Its geographical distribution includes the center of Europe and the entire Mediterranean coast, reaching Turkey, some regions in North Africa and Asia Minor. In the Iberian Peninsula it is found wild in the eastern region and in the Balearic Islands, being cultivated in some regions as a fruit species.

Sorbus domestica bark. Source: I, Michael Kranewitter [CC BY (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.5)]

Care

Multiplication

The propagation is carried out through seeds collected directly from the ripe fruits and sown, after pre-germination treatment, during the autumn. The pulp of the fruit contains inhibitory substances. Its seeds must be peeled, washed and stratified in sulfuric acid, sown in a universal substrate, they germinate for the spring.

Sowing / planting

Sowing is done from autumn so that the seedlings begin to emerge in early spring. The transplant to the field is carried out during the cool months, when there are no risks of occasional frosts and the average temperature remains above 10 ºC.

Location

In the wild it develops in understory areas in shady, but well-lit environments. Grown as a fruit plant, it should be located outdoors in full sun exposure, although seeking semi-shade in the early stages of development.

Soils

It grows on soils of limestone origin, with a loamy-sandy texture, fertile and well drained. In areas with heavy or clay soils, it is recommended to add a certain amount of coarse sand or gravel to the planting hole to improve drainage.

Ripe fruits of Sorbus domestica. Source: archenzo [CC BY-SA (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)]

Irrigation

The common rowan is a species that, once established, is quite tolerant of drought conditions. However, during its growth it is necessary to water 2-3 times a week during the summer and 1-2 times the rest of the year.

Subscriber

At the time of sowing, it is recommended to apply an organic fertilizer based on composted material, worm castings or cattle manure. Similarly, during autumn it is appropriate to apply organic fertilizers to guarantee optimal development and productivity in terms of flowering and fruiting.

Pruning

As a wild species or ornamental plant it does not require frequent pruning, only sanitation pruning in case of diseased, broken or wilted branches. As a fruit crop, it is advisable to carry out a sanitation pruning after harvest to favor the next flowering.

Rusticity

The common rowan is a tree very resistant to low temperatures, being able to tolerate frosts down to -15 ºC. During the autumn, when the temperature averages 15ºC, the foliage turns reddish. Whereas, if the weather stays warm, the leaves turn brown and fall off easily.

Plagues and diseases

As an adult plant it is a very resistant species to the incidence of pests and diseases of fungal or bacterial origin. However, during the first years and warm environments it can be affected by mealybugs or whiteflies, as well as being attacked by diseases such as fusariosis and anthracnose.

References

  1. Bissanti. G. (2018) Sorbus domestica . An Ecosustainable Mondo: within i codici della Natura. Recovered in: antropocene.it
  2. Lozano Terrazas, JL (2017) The common rowan or gerbil Sorbus domestica (Lam.).
  3. Sánchez, M. (2018) Sorbus domestica , the common rowan. Gardening On. Recovered in: jardineriaon.com
  4. Sorbus domestica . (2019). Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Recovered at: es.wikipedia.org
  5. Sorbus domestica (2018) Tree App. Recovered at: arbolapp.es
  6. Sorbus domestica L. (2011) Wild Seeds. Recovered in: semillassilvestres.com

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