[NAFEX] sorbus fruit

Mark Lee markl at nytec.com
Fri Nov 8 11:38:46 EST 2002

I went exploring at the arboretum in town this week.  I have been waiting
for the first freeze so I could go sample some fruit that I have been
reading about.  The common mountain ash, a Sorbus species, is considered by
some to be a weed in Seattle.  The fruit is so sour and astringent that I
classify it as a "spitter", one taste and you can't keep it in your mouth.
The Washington Arboretum has one of the largest collection of Sorbus, and
this provided me with a chance compare fruit quality of a number of species.
Here is a description of two that stood out.  A word of caution...   Like
apples, the seeds of Sorbus probably contain hydrogen cyanide, so the ususal
precautions should be taken (ie don't make meals out of nothing but seeds).

Sorbus devoniensis (Fontainbleu Service Tree, French Hales, Sorb Apple)  Two
colors of fruit were hanging on this tree, orange and brown with white
speckles.  The orange ones were mealy and tasteless.  The brown ones were
fully ripe and "bletted".  These had the flavor, sweetness and texture of
dates.  In England these are collected and fermented into an alchoholic

Sorbus pallescens  (no common name) Native to China.  The tree was young and
fruit was sparse.  But of the few I sampled, the flavor was good.  It was
sweet and tart with the flavor and texture of apricots.

Both of these trees will have a future in my edible landscape.

-Mark Lee, Seattle z7

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