Sorbus aria ‘Lutescens’


  • © Richie Steffen / Great Plant Picks

  • © Richie Steffen / Great Plant Picks

  • © Richie Steffen / Great Plant Picks

Outstanding Qualities

In springtime the new foliage of the whitebeam is seemingly effervescent. The leaves are swathed in a white, cottony covering that illuminates the garden. Indeed, Victorian poet George Meredith wrote “. . . Flashing as in gusts the sudden-lighted white beam. . .” The bountiful, tiny white flowers are borne in woolly clusters and develop into showy, bright red fruits. Fall color is yellow to russet.

Quick Facts

Plant Type: columnar tree

Foliage Type: deciduous

Plant Height: 10 ft. 0 in. (3.05 meters)

Plant Width/Spread: 6 ft. 0 in. (1.83 meters)

Plant Height-Mature: 30 ft. 0 in. (9.14 meters)

Plant Width-Mature: 25 ft. 0 in. (7.62 meters)

Hardiness: USDA Zones 5 to 8

Flower Color: white

Sun/Light Exposure: full sun to light shade

Water Requirements: occasional watering

Seasonal Interest: new foliage & flowers in spring, berries in early autumn

Wildlife Associations: bees, birds

Colors & Combos

Great Color Contrasts: gold, red, orange

Great Color Partners: silver, dark green, variegated

Culture Notes
This mountain ash prefers a location with full sun or light shade. It will grow best in rich well-drained to sandy soil. Once established it only needs an occasional watering during dry weather. Little pruning is needed to maintain its form, only remove any dead, broken or poorly formed limbs. In very wet and cool springs, fireblight can attack this tree. Prune our infected limbs in summer when it is dry and warm.
Geek Notes
Unlike many of its relatives such as the commonly planted Sorbus aucuparia (mountain ash) from Eurasia, the leaves of Sorbus aria ‘Lutescens’ are simple and not compound. This is a surprise to many gardeners unfamiliar with these simple-leaved mountain ashes (Sorbus). Sorbus aria is native to Ireland, southern United Kingdom, and central to southern Europe. The cultivar ‘Lutescens’ was put into commerce sometime before 1885 by the nursery of Messrs. Simon-Louis near Metz, France.