Wilmott’s whitebeam

Scientific name: Sorbus wilmottiana

Status: Nationally rare. IUCN – Endangered

Flowering time: White flowers May – June. Red berries from August – October.

Description: Small upright tree growing up to 10 metres tall, with narrow, elongated diamond-shaped leaves with shaggy edges and grey undersides. Found on rock and quarry faces in open, rocky woodland clearings and open grassland slopes.

Social history: First discovered by E. F. Warburg on Clifton Down in 1933.

Taxonomy: Rosaceae (or rose) family. 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 Wilmott’s whitebeam, there are seven kinds of whitebeam endemic to the Avon Gorge. The others are Bristol, Robertson’s, Houston’s, Avon, Observatory and Leigh Woods whitebeams.

Threats: Regenerates well, but requires open well-lit areas for seed germination to develop a stable population.

Photographs: ©Avon Gorge & Downs Wildlife Project, ©Denice Stout.