Service tree

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Service tree
Service tree (Sorbus torminalis)

Service tree ( Sorbus torminalis )

Family : Rose family (Rosaceae)
Subfamily : Spiraeoideae
Tribe : Pyreae
Sub tribus : Pome fruit family (Pyrinae)
Genre : White berries ( sorbus )
Type : Service tree
Scientific name
Sorbus torminalis
( L. ) Crantz

The Elsbeere ( Sorbus torminalis ) is a plant from the genus of flour berries ( Sorbus ) in the subtribe maloideae (Pyrinae) within the family of Rosaceae (Rosaceae).


Habit of an older service tree
Leaves and inflorescences

Appearance and leaf

The service tree is a deciduous deciduous tree that can grow to heights of 15 to 25 meters, sometimes over 30 meters in the forest. The bark of older trees is often ash-gray and small-scale. One can easily mistake the bark of the service tree for an oak bark .

The simple leaves , arranged alternately on the branches, are divided into a petiole and a leaf blade. The petiole is 2.5–5 inches long. The leaf blade is ovate to obovate in outline with a length of 5 to 11 centimeters. The leaf margin is pointedly lobed and serrated unevenly, the number of lobes is three to five. The autumn color of the leaves is orange-reddish.

Generative characteristics

The flowering period is between May and July. The hermaphrodite, five-fold flowers are white and form upright, loose and fine-haired, multi-flowered umbrella panicles . The open inflorescences give off an odor.

The leathery, bald, two-sided and two to four-seeded apple fruits ( false fruit ) with the calyx cavity at the top are obovate to roundish with a size of up to 1.5-1.9 centimeters, they are first olive green then reddish, later then brownish with light spots. The flattened, egg-shaped, red-brown and dull seeds are up to 7–8 millimeters long.

The number of chromosomes is 2n = 34 or 68.


The service tree is a mesomorphic, scleromorphic nanophanerophyte or phanerophyte . A vegetative propagation occurs through root shoots. She is a deep rooter. Some wild service specimens can live up to a hundred years, in rare cases they can also get older. The fruits experience a digestive and processing spread. The fruit ripening begins in October.

The service tree is a caterpillar host plant for the arrow owl , the trapezium owl , the red beech girdle spanner and the yellow spanner .


One of the few German "field service berries" on the outskirts of Ripsdorf near Blankenheim

The main distribution area is in Central and Southern Europe . Further occurrences can be found in Asia and a few in North Africa . The northernmost distribution area in Europe is found in Denmark . Like the service tree, the service tree belongs to the central to southern European flora.

The service tree usually grows in warmer locations, south-facing slopes and mountain ridges . It is called a semi-light tree species and tolerates shading quite well when young. It is a character species of the plant-sociological order Quercetalia pubescenti, but also occurs in societies of the associations Carpinion, Quercion roboris or the sub-association Cephalanthero-Fagenion.

For some years now, the service tree has been increasingly being planted again, also in northern Germany and southern Scandinavia.

In Germany , you can find service tree stocks in Baden-Württemberg , Rhineland-Palatinate , Lower Saxony , in southeastern Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania , in southwestern and southeastern North Rhine-Westphalia , Hesse , Bavaria (especially in the warmer Main Franconia ), Saxony-Anhalt , Saxony and Thuringia . However, the service tree does not dominate in any forest community, it occurs individually or in groups. The then highest known service tree in the world with a height of 35 meters stood on Hengstberg east of Groß Lengden in southern Lower Saxony until it burst in February 2017 in a storm.

On behalf of the Federal Office for Agriculture and Food (BLE) , the occurrence of ten rare native tree species in German forests was determined as part of the project recording and documenting genetic resources of rare tree species in Germany from 2010 to 2013 . 80,000 individuals have been recorded from the service tree, mainly in southwest and central Germany. Around half of German service berries grow in Franconia .

Solitary trees outside the forest are very rare in Germany - in contrast to Austria , for example . There are only about a dozen of such field service trees known, including the one near Weißenkirchen in Upper Bavaria and the service tree on the outskirts of Ripsdorf near Blankenheim in the Eifel , as well as the specimen within a group of trees in Marienrode that is under conservation . In Austria there are some very tall trees near Brand-Laaben and Neulengbach in the Vienna Woods and in Stössing .


It was first published in 1753 under the name ( Basionym ) Crataegus torminalis by the Swedish naturalist Carl von Linné in his work Species Plantarum . The new combination to Sorbus torminalis (L.) Crantz was published in 1763 by the German botanist Heinrich Johann Nepomuk von Crantz . The specific epithet torminalis means "relieving abdominal pain". Other synonyms for Sorbus torminalis (L.) Crantz is Pyrus torminalis (L.) Ehrh. , Sorbus orientalis Schönb.-Tem. , Sorbus torminalis var. Orientalis Gabr.

Common names

The service tree has received many names over the centuries, such as the name Ruhrbirne , as the fruits were a well-known remedy for dysentery . Furthermore, the common names Alzbeere, Adlerbeere, Adlitzbeere, Atlasbaum, Atlasbeere, Arisbeere, Arlesbeere, Arlkirsche, Darmbeere, Els rowan, Elzbeere, Elze, Frauenbeeri, Krause Else, Sauerbirl, Schöne Else, Schweizer Pirnbaum and Wilder Sparrowhawk (baum ) is used.


The wood of the service tree is one of the hardest European woods. It is porous, the core is usually not contrasted in color. It works and throws itself a lot when drying, is tough and at the same time elastic. Because of its similarity to the pear Elsbeere along with other Sorbus TYPES ( Speierling , rowan , rowan ) under the trade name Swiss pear sold. '' Swiss pear tree '' was used by many (European) manufacturers (including Aristo , Faber-Castell , Albert Nestler Drawing Technology ) for the production of high-quality wooden slide rules.

The wood sometimes achieves high prices when there is a suitable demand, is light with a velvety surface when fresh ( silk wood ) and darkens reddish. The veneer is used for cabinet making. The wood is still used in woodwind instrument making .

The small, apple-like fruits are edible, but astringent . Only when they are overripe or cooked is the tannin broken down. Overripe fruits are very popular with birds. That is why it is important to harvest the fruits on time. This has to be done by hand, the fruits cannot be shaken.

Especially in Alsace , the fruit of the service tree is used to make a schnapps with a taste similar to that of sloe schnapps under the French name Alisier . In Austria he calls himself beside Wild Service Tree spirit also Adlitzbeerenschnaps (dial. Oadlatzbeerschnaps). However, the yield is very low: 100 liters of mash are required for 2 liters of schnapps . In Austria, Elsberry brandy is also listed in the register of traditional foods , with its home in Lower Austria . The Wiesenwienerwald , a region in the western Vienna Woods , where the service tree is also processed or added to various products such as jam or honey, is marketed for tourism and culinary purposes under the Wiesenwienerwald service tree brand.

The service tree has a high ornamental value due to its red autumn color.


In 1999, theologians from the church research center in Lutherstadt Wittenberg chose the service tree as the Lutherin tree as their contribution to the then Lutherin year. They found out that Martin Luther's wife Katharina von Bora particularly liked eating service berries and that Luther wrote a letter asking his friend Johannes Agricola to bring him the fruit she had coveted from Eisleben for his wife . As a counterpart to the famous Luther oak in Wittenberg, they planted a service tree as a Lutherin tree in front of their institute and, among other things, drew attention to it with a bilingual sign. Following the example, in 2001 the environmental group of the Protestant parish Unna- Lünern also planted a Lutherin tree for its Lutheran oak.

On March 19, 2011, the Drinking Water Forest Association planted V. in cooperation with Deutsche Bank near Idstein- Eschenhahn in the Taunus (Hesse) a teardrop-shaped planting of 300 service berries. The campaign was intended to draw attention to World Water Day on March 22nd.

Tree of the year

In Germany the service tree was voted tree of the year for 2011 and in Austria for 2012 .


Individual evidence

  1. a b Sorbus torminalis (L.) Crantz, service tree. In:
  2. a b Erich Oberdorfer : Plant-sociological excursion flora for Germany and neighboring areas. 8th edition. Verlag Eugen Ulmer, Stuttgart 2001, ISBN 3-8001-3131-5 . Page 506.
  3. The most expensive wood from German forests. ( from September 19, 2011)
  4. Göttinger saves "Schöne Else" from extinction (Göttinger Tageblatt of October 28, 2010)
  5. Britta Eichner-Ramm: Thomas laid Else flat . In: Göttinger Tageblatt . April 4, 2017, p. 16 . ; textually identical online edition from April 3, 2017, accessed on April 4, 2017
  6. Federal Agency for Food and Agriculture (BLE) Retrieved on August 6, 2017.
  7. Carl von Linné: Species Plantarum . 1, 1753, p. 476.
  8. ^ Heinrich Johann Nepomuk von Crantz: Stirpium Austriarum Fasciculus 2, 1763, p. 45.
  9. ^ Sorbus torminalis in the Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN), USDA , ARS , National Genetic Resources Program. National Germplasm Resources Laboratory, Beltsville, Maryland.
  10. a b Sorbus torminalis at Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, accessed November 5, 2015.
  11. ^ The service tree, Tree of the Year 2011. Retrieved April 6, 2011 .
  12. Natural forest just around the corner (PDF; 2.6 MB) Rabenstein an der Pielach community accessed on February 5, 2011
  13. ↑ Service tree brandy . Entry no. 32 in the register of traditional foods of the Austrian Federal Ministry for Agriculture, Regions and Tourism .
  14. Wiesenwienerwald service tree . Entry no.74 in the register of traditional foods of the Austrian Federal Ministry for Agriculture, Regions and Tourism .
    Wiesenwienerwald service tree at the association Genuss Region Österreich .
  15. Deutsche Bank employees plant 300 trees (with video)
  16. Website Tree of the Year
  17. ^ Website [1] accessed on February 10, 2012

Web links

Wiktionary: Elsbeere  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations