Sorbus torminalis or elsbes or Sorb apple tree

Elsbes or Sorbus torminalis is a beautiful small tree that is suitable for the garden

Sorbus torminalis (Bot.)
Sorb apple tree (Eng.)
Alisier TorMinal (French)
Elsbeere (German)
Rosaceae – Rose family

The most famous feature of the elsbes is reflected in the Latin nickname tormalis. It means to stomach. Already in ancient times was an extract of the berries for this purpose.


Elsbes grows in dry mountain forests, oak woodlands and thickets of Central – and Eastern Europe, North Africa, Asia Minor and Syria. In the Netherlands it is rarely found in the wild, here and there as an ornamental tree.

Plant Characteristics

The elsbes different from the other sorbussoorten. It is a deciduous tree to 22 m high with an oval crown. The large five-to zevenlobbige maple leaves after the first leak dewy, but later completely smooth and bright green. The lower lobes are large and are wijduit. Striking is the bright red fall color of the leaves.

The white flowers that develop after the leaves appear, are formed together in matted hairy feathers. They appear in May-June. The elsbes usually flowers after 12 years.

elsbes in bloom

The peas are great fruits spherical or oblong. They are immature red yellow, ripe brown with green and white dots. They mature in September to October.

The bark is first smooth, white, later dark brown with small scales.


Elsbes has a sunny, warm spot on calcareous, well-drained soil required. Although he tolerates drought well, he does not dry or sandy loam soil. He is somewhat frost sensitive.


In Austria people used to make the fruit brandy (Adlitzbeerwasser) of it. Therefore they are an over-ripe state (after the first frost) harvested. They are doughy soft because there is not so much tannic acid in it. One must hurry to harvest, because the birds love it. Harvesting at the earliest possible after 12 years.

The ripe fruits are sweet and sour tastes good to eat and can serve as blending with other fruits (chutney, compote, juice, jam). In addition to fruit wines and musts shall increase shelf life and flavor.

Sorbus mougeatii

Further elsbessoorten

Sorbus x Arnol diana: like the rowan and in Western Europe like wild fruit grown for its high vitamin C content and sorbit. The fruits are white or pink.

Sorbus chamaemespilus: This is a shrubby dwergmeelbes which grows very slowly. The fruits are round or ovoid and reddish brown.

Sorbus x hybrida: This species is also known as Finnish meelbes. And only as ornamental tree found. It is a small tree of up to 7 m high. The fruits are as large as cherries, dark and remain long on the tree.

Sorbus chamaemespilus

Sorbus x latifolia

This is a rondbladige meelbes with large, yellow-brown fruit with a pleasant, mildly sour flavor. They are suitable for wine making. In Italy this species is known as Baccarella.

Sorbus mougeotii

This species is found in the mountains of southern and central Europe. It is a 20 m high, slow growing tree with an oval or egg-shaped crown. The leaves are broadly elliptical, lobed and leathery. The white bloemtuilen strong odors. The round fruits are red.

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2 Responses to Sorbus torminalis or elsbes or Sorb apple tree

  1. Rose says:

    Where can I buy a Sorb apple tree here in Toronto, Canada.
    Thank you

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