True service tree (Sorbus Domestica)

I noticed this might be the last fruit that’s missing in this forum so I am adding few pictures from local small festival in Czech Rep., Europe.

Service tree is considered to be native in Central Europe (but could be brought by Romans). It used to grow in abundance in the middle ages but now it’s very rare. It can grow well over 100ft and is considered the largest fruit tree in Europe and it can live up to 600 years.

This small festival takes place close to a small village of Tvarozna Lhota. This area has around 50 trees that are older than 150 years and it’s also the location of the 2nd biggest service tree in the world with diameter of more than 16ft and 450 years old(unfortunately I wasn’t able to visit it). The biggest one is in Slovakia about 30 miles away from there. 300 year old tree can give you about 1 ton of fruit.

It’s taking place every year for the last 5 or so years in rural area close to Slovak border


The place is a 19th century farm that was abandoned but being slowly rebuilt

It’s only one day event always in the second half of September when the fruit ripens


Local apple and pear varieties on the display

Local products like cakes, wooden toys etc.

Quince and medlars that are not ripe yet but are also considered traditional fruit.

Local varieties of Sorbus Domestica with some grapes, dried mulberry and dogwood that is also native.

Detail on sorbus domestica fruit (both apple and pear shaped) coming from local trees.

Fruit has to be bletted otherwise it’s very astringent but some of the varieties are tasty even in the “not fully ripe” stage.

Preserves and cider

Local dulcimer band

This variety was the biggest I saw there with fruit of about 25=35 grams. It’s name is Indigniente and comes from Italy.


Micropropagated trees were available for about 10$

Smaller grafted trees for about 5$

Sorbus domestica preserves, jam and pie

19 Likes

Very neat info, thanks for sharing!

I have a small Shipova which has yet to fruit. It is a hybrid of the Service tree and pear.

Yes, thanks for the interesting pictures. I honestly did not know about these trees. Live and learn.

1 Like

Yeah almost no one know about this fruit. There was one tree planted in my city about 8 years ago and no one knows what it is because the fruit is always let to rot. Each September I eat few fruits off the tree just to remind me of the taste but can’t imagine to have a whole tree. It tastes similar to medlar but since it’s smaller I prefer medlar (though I have to admit the liquor was very good haha).
I am familiar with Shipova and know 2 people growing it but I haven’t tasted one yet.
I wonder if there are any sorbus domestica trees in USA. I might be wrong but someone here posted pictures of some taste test/homegrower meeting and there was a picture of medlars with one plate of service tree fruit being incorrectly named “mountain ash”.
I forgot to mention I met a true fan of service tree from Slovenia there who told me he has 18 trees and bought 5 more (all for cider). He was visiting with the whole family.

3 Likes

Amazing photos! I have been to the Oskoruse museum in Tvarozna Lhota, but dream of visiting Moravia during the harvest time for this festival. I am growing two varieties of Sorbus domestica here in America, from Czech seeds. I also have many seeds that I’ve gathered from three mature trees in Seattle. There are several trees in California as well.

In my opinion the fruit is delicious - better than medlar in flavor, though of course it’s smaller.

If anyone in the United States is interested in growing this tree, I am happy to mail free seeds and germination instructions. Contact me at freesorbtreeseeds@gmail.com or through instagram: https://www.instagram.com/strom_oskoruse/

1 Like

My seedlings are doing wonderful so far. If you ever decide to graft/take scions of the best fruiting varieties you’ve found in Seattle, please let me know. :blush:

I was surprised to see those pictures here as I read up on that festival !

Also if you look at the comment a DETAILED book is available to buy (and print yourself, )
(but is also readable online just not as easy to read , and I think you should support the author.)

Here is a Link I think I should add A big Sorbus in Luther Burbank Collection

Sorbus domestica hybrids - Hybrid Mountain Ash — Phytognosis

1 Like

I don’t understand why he calls them hybrids. Sorbus domestica is kinda solitaire within the genus Sorbus. It doesn’t cross with any of the fellow members of the genus nor does it graft to any of them.

Speaking of hybrids… are the berries on Sorbus hybrida worth eating or is Sorbus domestica really the only palatable species? We may be due for a boulevard tree replacement and may try to plant a Sorbus if the city forester approves.