Service tree

Service tree grows on the edges of the forest and as solitary tree. In the past, during Roman empire, its fruits have been used for making alcoholic drinks. Today, service tree can be used for ornamental purposes, wood and fruit production. The fruits can be eaten when over-ripe, otherwise their taste is pungent. Some products obtained from service tree’s fruits: marmalades, jellies, fruit wine or other alcoholic drinks, juices and jams. In medicine the fruits are used against intestinal problems, diabetes, neurological diseases and cardiovascular disorders . The main use of this species is timber which has an excellent quality and reaches quite high prices. European canker of apple (Nectria galligen) and apple scab (Venturia inaequalis) can cause premature leaf fall.

Foto : Franco Rossi,
Foto : Franco Rossi,
Latin name:
Sorbus domestica L.
Order, Familiae:
Rosales, Rosaceae
Part of specie used:
Fruits, Wood
Beverages, Foodstuff, Pharmaceutical

Service tree is a deciduous tree, reaching 20 m in height. Leaves are imparipinnate with 13-21 leaflets. The color of the bark is dark with rectangular fissures. It flourishes from late April to mid-May. The fruits are edible, apple or pear-shaped, 2-3cm in diameter, and usually they contain 2-5 (up to 10) seeds. The regeneration rate from seeds is low, and the tree frequently regenerates by root sprouts. It often reaches 200 years of age, occasionally even more (up to 400).

Service tree is light demanding species and prefers moderately acid or neutral soils (pH 4,5 – 7,0). Although is resistant to -25, -30 °C, it prefers mild and warm climate. Minimum requirement of rainfall is 500 mm per year; Service tree is a weak competitor in relation to other species. Suitable species for agroforestry systems.


In Europe, service tree is very rare and its genetic diversity is threatened mainly due to the reduction in number of individuals and disturbance of the natural populations by human activities.


Price of the wood varies but highly valued timber, on auctions, can reach up to 10 000 EUR per cubic meter.


Drvodelić, D., Jemrić, T., Oršanić, M., Oskoruša: važnost, uporaba i uzgoj, University of Zagreb, 2015
Krška, The opportunity of introduction Sorbus domestica as fruit tree, International conference „Service tree – tree for new Europe, Morava, Czech republic, 2015
Termentzi, A., Alexiou, P., Demopoulos, V. J., Kokkalou, E., The aldose reductase inhibitory capacity of Sorbus domestica fruit extracts depends on their phenolic content and may be useful for the control of diabetic complications, Pharmazie 63, 2008, p.693-696.
Forino, M., Tenore, G C., Tartaglione, L., Dell'aversano, C., Novellino, E., Ciminiello, P., (1S,3R,4S,5R)5-O-Caffeoylquinic acid: Isolation, stereo-structure characterization and biological activity, Food Chemistry 178, 2015, p.306-310.


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The INCREDIBLE project aims to show how Non-Wood Forest Products (NWFP) can play an important role in supporting sustainable forest management and rural development, by creating networks to share and exchange knowledge and expertise. ‘Innovation Networks of Cork, Resins and Edibles in the Mediterranean basin’ (INCREDIBLE) promotes cross-sectoral collaboration and innovation to highlight the value and potential of NWFPs in the region.


Innovation Networks of Cork, Resins and Edibles in the Mediterranean basin’ (INCREDIBLE) project receives funding from the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 programme under grant agreement Nº 774632