The Wild Service Tree Sorbus torminalis

The Wild Service Tree grows to a medium-sized tree on a wide variety of soils, often on clay over limestone. It is found in old woods and hedgerows and is often considered to be an indicator of ancient woodland. It is sometimes planted in parks and gardens. The main area of distribution are in England in the SE, parts of central south England, the SW and also throughout the lowland parts of Worcestershire, Herefordshire and Gloucestershire. In Worcestershire it is most frequent west of the River Severn growing in woods and hedges. In the latter it is often with Small-leaved Lime Tila cordata and other species probably indicating they are remnants of ancient woodland which once covered the area. East of the Severn it is less common, usually only found in woods. There are good stands in Tiddesley Wood, especially in the southern parts. Like many other trees and shrubs it survives coppicing and re-grows as a multi-stemmed tree. There are several trees just within the north end of the wood by the Open Day area.

The trees bear white clusters of showy flowers in May, and dangling clusters of brown fruit during the autumn and winter. The leaves are reminiscent of maple in shape. In autumn these are bightly coloured yellow and red. Despite its flowers and striking autumn leaves the tree is often overlooked. The flowers attract many insects to their nectar and pollen in spring including in Tiddesley Wood some uncommon beetles.

To mark the Tiddesley Wood Open Day Silver Jubilee, a Wild Service Tree has been planted along side the Millennium Trees in the field to the side of the wood. This tree was grown in a large tub and on Tiddesley Wood Open Day visitors (especially children) were invited to write messages on silver leaves and hang them on the tree. Why a Wild Service Tree? It grows in Tiddesley Wood and a hanging spray of its leaves and fruit have been the Open Day logo on handbills and posters for many years. The Trust also makes Wild Service Awards every year to volunteers who have done outstanding work for the Trust, usually over many years. So the tree is an appropriate Jubilee marker.