Avon whitebeam

Scientific name: Sorbus avonensis

Status: Nationally rare. IUCN – Critically Endangered

Flowering time: White flowers with pink anthers in May and early June. Red berries from September – October.

Description: Small tree up to 15 metres tall with broad oval shaped leaves and red berries.

Social history: First discovered by Bristol botanist, Libby Houston, in 1995.

Taxonomy: Originated as a hybrid between Sorbus aria (common whitebeam) and Sorbus porrigentiformis (grey-leaved whitebeam).

Global and national distribution: Endemic to the Avon Gorge – it grows wild here and nowhere else in the world. The Avon Gorge is particularly famous for its whitebeams. Including Avon whitebeam, there are seven kinds of whitebeam endemic to the Avon Gorge. The others are Bristol, Wilmott’s, Robertson’s, Houston’s, Observatory and Leigh Woods whitebeams.

Threats: Poor regeneration. Requires open well-lit areas for seed germination to develop a stable population.

Photographs: © Denice Stout, © Libby Houston.