The wild service tree has a similar range to that of the whitebeam, though it docs not extend as far north and east. It requires a mild climate and thus is found in hilly country only up to 500 metres. Ideal conditions are provided by limestone soils and sun-facing slopes, though in Britain it is often found on clay soils.
The wild service tree reaches a height of 20 to 25 metres and because it may live 200 to 300 years, one may come across the occasional, robust specimen with a vast broad crown. The bark is furrowed in squares, the buds are spherical, lustrous yellow-green. The leaves may take on red tints in autumn. The white flowers are borne in erect panicles 6 to 8 centimetres across. The brown fruits are edible following the first frost. The wild service tree has a heart-shaped root system with long lateral roots, and reproduces also by root suckers. The wood is heavy and very hard, and is used for woodcarvings and making rulers, gauges and instrument components. An ornamental tree, it is also suitable for planting alongside roads and in tree avenues.
In southern Europe it often hybridizes witli the whitebeam to produce the hybrid broad-leaved whitebeam (Sorbus latifolia Pers.)
Buds: Spherical, yellow-green. Leaves: 7—12 cm long, with 5 to 7 lobes, the basal pair growing out horizontally, and a serrate margin. Flowers: White. Fruit: Berry-like, brown, ovoid, 10—12 mm long, covered with small pale dots.