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Sorbus domestica - Service Tree - Jerusalem Pear - Whitty Pear - Sorb Tree - Cormier

 
pollinator
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Sheffields has them , from Holland. I ordered some, and I hope to have a couple other sources. I am planting them in tree tubes and they will germinate when they feel like it. I am planting 30, so I may have extra I can send bare root in the US.
 
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Hello,
for those of you interested in getting seeds i will try and get some in october/november.
Depending on how many i get and how many people want some quantities may be quite small.
If you follow the germination instructions and if the seeds are fresh you should have 80 percent germination at least.
GRIN sent me 10 seeds two years ago and all 10 grew so i had 100 percent germination.
The quality of their seeds was very good.
The seeds I (and Arnould sometimes) try to get are from large-fruited mother trees only.

A word of advice:
Only plant this tree if you have at least 2 acres of land for otherwise standard fruit trees are much better.
Plant it far enough away from your house because when they start to fruit they give so much fruit (when they are bigger) that you will probably never manage to collect all or use all and that will attract lots of wasps,hornets,butterflies and all sorts of other animals that you don't necessarily want right next to your house.
Also this tree is not invasive at all, so it doesn't cause any problems in that sense.
 
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Philip Heinemeyer wrote:


Plant it far enough away from your house because when they start to fruit they give so much fruit (when they are bigger) that you will probably never manage to collect all or use all and that will attract lots of wasps,hornets,butterflies and all sorts of other animals that you don't necessarily want right next to your house.
Also this tree is not invasive at all, so it doesn't cause any problems in that sense.




So, plant it near the pig pen?
 
Philip Heinemeyer
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Yes, why not? The pigs will be happy if they get some fruit.
 
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Last year, 2018, was an exceptionnal year for fruits in Western Europe, including for sorbus domestica, eg see the video in this link about a huge tree in Marmoutier, Alsace, France, which lost a branch due to the heavy weight of the fruits :

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mRgheRUZL9U

At 27 seconds into the video the girl explains that the fruits are not edible, if you try them in this state, your mouth will remember them for at least 1/4 of an hour. At 35 seconds you can see fruits that look like they are rotten. In fact they are "blet" ie overripe. They are soft with a beautiful yellow color inside and full of sugar with an incredible taste (incredible because new for us, modern population). I eat them like the girl at 38s without the skin, but I think the skin could be eaten as well. And yes, in this village people know the value of those big trees and the tree with the broken branch was healed as well as possible. At 1mn Antoine shows some eau-de-vie de cormes, he seems to regret the old times when this had at least 52 degrees of alcohol vs now 45 degrees only...

Now the good news is that there are fruits again this year, in 2019, so there will be enough seeds !
 
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I have had good luck starting seeds directly onto humus filled pots. Like most seeds of fruiting trees or shrubs, I never dry them out. I take a paste of the smashed fruit and spread it around.  Half an inch of potting soil on top. Each fruit only has one or two seeds in my experience.
 
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I am very interested in getting some of these seeds when they are available. I have seen service before, but never with such large fruit. We have medlars here, and blet them each year. They are great, but nearing the end of their lives.
 
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we seem to have missed the october/november window, but i'm very interested in getting seed for this tree. anyone still here who has some to share?
 
Philip Heinemeyer
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I managed to ground layer a grafted sorbus domestica. I bought a grafted tree. I planted it horizontally along the ground and heaped earth on the roots and all over the rest just letting the tip show out.
It took three years but now finally it started to make roots close to the top where it was buried. I cut it off and planted it in a pot.
This enables me to grow the superior variety (sossenheimer riese in this case) on its own roots. Older true service trees often send out root suckers that you can quite easily dig out and in this case they would be of the same variety. Also growing trees on their own roots can have other advantages (healthier tree, longer lifespan etc.)
But this is not necessarily always the case.
I reckon this can probably be done with all plants in the rose family, so most of our fruit trees (in temperate regions)
I know for a fact that this works with apples and now i did it with a true service tree.
I tried it with a medlar but i got impatient and transplanted it after 2 years thinking this doesn't work.
The true servive tree i was actually digging it up to give it to a friend when i noticed it had rooted.
I had checked the 2 previous years and thought this doesn't work either.
It might well happen a lot quicker if you deliberately cut the top half way through, sort of snap it upwards without tearing it off so half of the bark is still attached and then maybe use rooting powder or water with willow bark/leaf soup but this is speculation for it may cause the upper part to abort or be an entry point for disease.
It's a lot of work but if there's a fruit variety you really like and you'd like to have it growing on its own roots, it can be done.
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grafted tree after three years growing along the ground
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detail of roots emerging
 
Tj Jefferson
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Very nice. It was a struggle getting seeds here so I planted what I could get but the selection there seems superior. Well done.
 
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if anyone out there is interested in sorbus but want better tasting fruit, Sorbopyrus auricularis (shipova) is a sorb/pear hybrid that tastes good but grows very slow

Also Sorbus latifolia is a french sorb with superior tasting fruit and is more cold hardy
 
Tj Jefferson
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How does one get it in the US? I’m into anything.
 
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After the 100 days of stratification take out the seeds and sow them in weed free soil in abox or so.
3 to 4 weeks later you will see the small trees starting to grow.
Plant each seedling into a jiffypot made of turf or coconut (this is important!) and water regularly, but not too much.  



Philip, I am at this stage...100 days of stratification is up tomorrow.  I have a flat of weed free potting soil ready.  My question is do I keep them in the house where it is above freezing or outdoors (we have 13F due on friday morning) or in my hoop house that will freeze at night but warms nicely in the daytime?  I don't see any that have sprouted yet but have not removed from the jar to look more closely.  

Thanks!
 
Philip Heinemeyer
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Keep them in the house cause the warmth will be good.
If the 100 days are over they should be ready to be sown.
If you check them and none have sprouted maybe sow half of them and leave the other half in the fridge for another week or so.
Good luck.
 
Judith Browning
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Thank you Philip!

After checking the date on the jars I see that I put them in the refrigerator November 7 and 8th so it is only just over 90 days...will give them another week and in the meantime I've brought the flat in for the soil to warm to room temperature.  

 
Judith Browning
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Philip, My seeds are sprouting!!!

...just a few, but enough early ones to have hope for all
They've been out of the refrigerator and in soil for a couple weeks now I think.

I'll get them in a sunny window today.

Do I wait until we are frost free to put them outdoors? ...I have a hoop house that will keep them above freezing most nights and I suppose if it drops into the twenties I could bring them back in?
 
Philip Heinemeyer
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Interesting interview with Arnould about sorbus domestica and its potential for cider and wine making.

https://ciderchat.com/sorbusdomestica/?fbclid=IwAR1NB3Nlwux-3oafGMPCPY03FnzI6n5PBc9O0CqQspL6w-wCKuWKIJrO0QI

and also

https://ciderchat.com/sorb/
(podcast nr. 220)
 
Judith Browning
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Judith Browning wrote:Philip, My seeds are sprouting!!!

...just a few, but enough early ones to have hope for all
They've been out of the refrigerator and in soil for a couple weeks now I think.

I'll get them in a sunny window today.

Do I wait until we are frost free to put them outdoors? ...I have a hoop house that will keep them above freezing most nights and I suppose if it drops into the twenties I could bring them back in?



I thought I had done another update with pictures but apparently not?
Out of quite a few seedlings I ended up with four good healthy looking trees.
They will go in the ground this winter.

I'm assuming they will loose their leaves and be dormant soon?
 
Philip Heinemeyer
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Yes, they lose their leaves in winter
 
Philip Heinemeyer
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pictures of the fruit of one of the trees growing at the Luther Burbank experimental farm in Sebastopol, California.
According to the person who sent me these pictures it is the earliest bearing, most prolific tree and has the largest and best-tasting fruit.

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Hello everyone, I have Sorbus domestica seeds that I am happy to share with anyone who is interested in growing this tree.  Now is a great time to start stratifying them for spring germination and planting.  I will send free seeds with instructions for how I germinate them.  You can reach me at freesorbtreeseeds@gmail.com or here: https://www.instagram.com/strom_oskoruse/ .  I love this tree and its fruits, and I hope that it will become much more commonly grown in North America and around the world during my lifetime.  Please spread the word to anyone who is interested.
 
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Thanks to this thread I have identified a Sorbus tree in my neighbourhood.
It is still rather young and there are only a couple of fruits.

I am still waiting for confirmation from the head of our local environmental group (who is responsible for the fruit trees planted in that location) - he might know the exact variety and when it was planted.
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sorbus fruits
sorbus fruits
Speierling.jpg
tree
tree
 
Anita Martin
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Now that the fruits have gotten very soft I tried one. Oh my, they are so adstringent, like trying to eat a raw sloe!
I wonder if the fruit I had picked up had fallen down in a very unripe state or if they are of a variety that does not give edible crops.
 
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Hello all! I would love to try growing these. I’ve looked everywhere and can’t seem to find any trees or seeds in the US. Would anyone be interested in sharing seeds?
 
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Hello Everyone i have totally enjoyed reading all of your posts. My husband is first generation american. his father is 100% french from brittany and our last name is de Cormier and his first name Britt.
i would love to get some seeds of this amazing tree. we just moved from virginia to florida and i believe it would be amazing to grow his big beautiful tree in our yard. Would it be possible to get some seeds?

Sincerely Carisa de Cormier
 
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If you can't find permies with seeds to share, be aware that they are in stock at Sheffield's Seeds right now; I just ordered a few.
 
Ben Oskeruše
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I can send seeds next fall when I collect them again.  You can reach me at freesorbtreeseeds@gmail.com or through instagram: https://www.instagram.com/strom_oskoruse/
 
Philip Heinemeyer
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I am very excited to have a little cormier tree flowering for me for the first time now.
This is a very special variety. Last winter (19/20) a friend of mine and myself grafted about 20 varieties of sorbus domestica that came from a conservation orchard in bavaria.
On of these varieties called "Christophs Apfel" flowered that same year. She gave me the tree and now it is starting to flower again in my tunnel.
It is a variety that is known to flower already when the trees are very young as mentioned in the book "Der Speierling".

So i planted my first tree 7 years ago. I have about 20 trees and none of them are flowering but this one is.
So that's very amazing to me. I only ever saw a flowering tree once when i was in the tchech republic.
Where i live here in brittanny there aren't hardly any of these trees that i know of.

"Christophs Apfel" makes apple-shaped fruit and another variety known to flower very early that makes pear-shaped fruit is called "Bovender Nordlicht".
Both of these varieties are the result of a german breeding program with which they wanted to improve this tree and develop it for orchard usage.
Sadly the program was stopped or ran out of steam but these two interesting varieties remain.

20210328_120051.jpg
flower bud opening
flower bud opening
 
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Philip Heinemeyer wrote:a friend of mine and myself grafted about 20 varieties of sorbus domestica that came from a conservation orchard in bavaria.



Hi Philip,

thats interesting, do you have the adress/website/phone number of that orchard?
 
Anita Martin
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R. Han wrote:

Philip Heinemeyer wrote:a friend of mine and myself grafted about 20 varieties of sorbus domestica that came from a conservation orchard in bavaria.



Hi Philip,

thats interesting, do you have the adress/website/phone number of that orchard?


The original orchard was probably that of the Bavarian Agricultural Institute in Veitshöchheim (near Würzburg). But nowadays it seems there are more nurseries selling the sorbus domestica.
Here are several sellers that go from around 2 USD for a year old sapling (see picture)


When googling a bit a found a very interesting book on the history of the Speierling in different European countries and the best ways to cultivate the seeds. It is in German, but has very interesting pictures as well (by looking at them I learned that some trees obviously have a tendency to grow a left-turning trunk). The PDF is online for free:
https://www.sdw.de/cms/upload/Projekte/FK-Speierling/Speierling_Buch.pdf
sorbus.jpg
Sellers of sorbus
Sellers of sorbus
 
R. Han
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Thanks a lot Anita, i think i will try to contact them when i plant Sorbus domestica.

I would not buy a seedling, as the cultuvars seem a lot more interesting,
see this picture i found that illustrates the difference between the cultuvars the the seedlings:

(source https://www.lfl.bayern.de/mam/cms07/iab/dateien/streuobsttagung_2017_beitrag_d%C3%B6ppler.pdf )
Screenshot_2021-04-02-PowerPoint-Pr-sentation-streuobsttagung_2017_beitrag_d-ppler-pdf.png
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Philip Heinemeyer
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https://www.lwg.bayern.de/

This is the website of the bavarian institute where they keep several different varieties.
They do sell grafted trees, but generally only from the variety "Sossenheimer Riese" which according to
Mr. Doeppler is the best one anyway. It is the one in the picture you posted next to a seedling with small green fruit.
Only if you live in Germany, or at least in the EU do you have a chance of being able to buy trees or even get grafts there.
I once drove there, visited them and bought 5 grafted trees. That's why Mr. Doeppler remembered me and agreed to send us grafts.
I was lucky. He is probably very busy, but you can always try and contact him.
His contact details are somewhere on the website.
 
R. Han
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Hi,

the "Sossenheimer Riese" was the only cultivar i could find for sale,
i thought this was because i searched specifically for this cultivar
as it was mentioned in this thread and i did not hear of any other cultivars.
That said most of the trees on the market seem to be seedlings.

So from what you write it seems there are really no other grafted cultivars
on the market. This makes me want the other cultivars even more

That said most of the trees on the market seem to be seedlings.

If i happen to buy a few hectares of suitable land,
i will definetly try to get my hands on those other cultivars.

Part of the motivation is that i read a bit in the book that anita posted
about the problems the tree suffers in its habitat.
Obviously the timber has been harvested heavily in the past as it has
specific mechanical properties. And now they don't have a place in
regular commercial forrests as those are too dark/densly planted while Sorbus
feels happy in a ligthly planted forrest/savannah or even solitary tree.
(so it should feel happy in correctly spaced temerate food forrests).
So the remaining trees cannot propagate generatively as their offspring is
faced with unsuitable coniditions. Also the tree fails to propagate beacuse
the fruits as well as seeds are usually eaten by animals.
Too add insult to injury, those trees that could propagate usually
are all alone which doesn't aid the genetic diversity.
That said, creating a big enough food forrest containing many cultivars
could really help saving the genetic diversity of this species.

Another part of the motivation is that i don't believe there is a "best cultivar",
as the book mentions many specific uses for the tree and its fruit,
so planting those cultivars in your food forrest might be a base
for financial stability.

Thanks a lot for all the infomation posted here and please update
if you see another cultivar for sale to regular people.
 
Philip Heinemeyer
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There is other cultivars for sale and i know where you can find them if you live in the european union. If the nurseries send to the UK i am not sure with the brexit and all.
 
Philip Heinemeyer
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Seedlings of sorbus domestica and my tallest seed-grown tree now nearly 12 foot tall.
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Judith Browning
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Philip,
Have been meaning to post some pictures.

I have two trees in the ground and one in a big pot still.  
I gave our son two pots to plant on his two acres and then a few more started popping up in one of the pots, so he has several.

Mine spent a very cold and snowy winter in the ground and have leafed out this last month beautifully

Thank you so much for the seeds!

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Philip Heinemeyer
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Hello Judith,
nice pictures. It's hard to say whether they will grow well for you. Don't be too disappointed if they get sick. (this is happening to me) I found one breton variety that seems to grow well in our pacific north-west-type climate. They grow quite slow for a while but then they speed up a bit once established. From seed to first flowering takes about 10 to 12 years. The (preferably straight) branches make excellent tool handles. When older trees are felled they can send out lots of new growth from the roots sometimes and these are ideal for tool handles. The wood is very hard. But then again you have hickories so that's all you could ever wish for in terms of tool handles. I wouldn't be surprised if true service tree timber is harder than hickory though.
It's best to not plant them too close to the house because they make huge quantities of fruit that will also attract wasps and hornets.
If the fruit wasn't so strongly astringent when it's pretty and only becomes edible when soft and brownish (therefore visually less appealing) many more people would be growing these trees.
Work to change this is underway but might never reach "fruitition".
On one of the tree conferences one man said he knew a tree with fruit that was edible before bletting.
A tchech friend of mine, Vitek Hrdousek (prob. the number one expert on these trees) told me he tasted fruit in italy that was tasty fresh (unbletted)
He reckons it's only a question of time before we get improved varieties.
The fruit have twice the average nutritional content of apples.
The german name "Speierling" comes from speien which means spitting or vomiting,
implying what happens when you bite into an unripe fruit.
The tree needs a good sunny exposition.
20210303_161338.jpg
disease on branch
disease on branch
 
Judith Browning
Posts: 7938
Location: Ozarks zone 7 alluvial,black,deep clay/loam with few rocks, wonderful creek bottom!
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Philip, I'm enjoying the fact that they have made it this far and love telling others their origin.

I've warned our sons that they are the caretakers of those trees and all the others we have planted here just in case we're not around to see them bear fruit.
I did give them a good spot on our bit of land and hopefully enough sun?
We are all wild persimmon lovers in this family so astringency before bletting is a familiar concept.  

In twelve years I'll be just 82 so should still be around to post an update if they are fruiting then

 
Philip Heinemeyer
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Location: central brittany, france
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Hello,
for those of you interested in my attempts at breeding sorbus domestica i would like to refer you to my blog. It's not that i am trying to advertise myself but i started writing about this tree on 3 or 4 different sites/forums and i don't have the time with a slow internet connection to upload pictures and make posts everywhere.
blog: permabreed.blogspot.com
 
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