Attached are a series of photos of a seedling my younger son has been nurturing for the last six months. Initially about 10 cm high, it has now grow to a height of 28 cm (11 in) and spread of 27 cm (10 in).
We have tried to identify the plant using the photographs of the leaves in the plant section of What is that? / The complete guide to Britain's wildlife, plants and flowers (London, 2008, Readers Digest). We think it may be a tree. If so, from the shape of the leaves, our best guess would be that it is a Wild Service-tree (Sorbus torminalis).
Page 25 of the above book mentions three rare, local species including the Bristol Service-tree (Sorbus bristoliensis), which might be a possibility, as we live in south Bristol. However, the leaves on our seedling bear no resemblance to the photos I can find via Google of the leaves of the mature Bristol Service-tree.
Your assistance would be much appreciated.
Well, it is not Sorbus torminalis. That has its leaves arranged alternately on the stems - whereas the leaves on your plant have an 'opposite' arrangement. That also rules out Crataegus (hawthorns), Abutilon, Rubus, Kerria and many other genera.
Also, I suspect it is not a tree. It would be unusual for a tree to develop multiple stems this soon in its life.
More likely, it is a shrub; perhaps a woody shrub. That may still mean it is a species in a genus that is normally thought of as composed of trees; eg. Acer circinatum. ...So I am not ruling out such genera.
It is not coming to me. I feel I expect it to be something like Vitex, but I'm fairly sure it is not that. It might be a garden plant (they can be found as 'escapes' in the countryside), which would make identification harder since the number of possibilities is much greater.
So, just now, I am merely sharing some thoughts rather than giving you an answer.
Meanwhile, some questions:
- Did your son start it from a seed? If so, what was it like (berry, samara, nut, etc.)
- If not, there could be a remnant of the seed at the base of the stem or in the top few cm of the soil (brown like the soil, and starting to decompose - so it might not be at all obvious) - please have a look.
- Where did the plant or seed come from? And was it on its own, or were there many of them?
- Do the leaves have any obvious smell when bruised slightly?
Thank you for replying so promptly, and for your thoughtful and detailed response.
As to your questions, I can respond as follows.
(1), (3). No, it was not started from seed. It was taken as a small seedling from shop-bought compost into which we planted a miniature ornamental weeping cherry that itself came in a smaller pot. As far as my son can recall, it was the only seedling of its type. Moreover, he assures me that it was towards the outer edge of the pot into which we trasplanted the cherry, which reduces the likelihood of it having been in the compost ball that came with the tree. That leaves either the compost into which we transplanted the tree, a thin layer of soil from our garden on top of it, or it may possibly have been transported by the wind or by a bird.
(2) I have looked 1-2 cm below the surface of the soil, but did not find any remnants of a seed as described by yourself.
(3) Having taken one leaf and crushed it between thumb and forefinger, I can only describe the smell as a "crushed leaf" smell. It certainly does not have any strong or recognisable smell.
I hope this helps in your detective work on our behalf.
Thanks for the answers.
Unfortunately, that doesn't get me far. I had been hoping for seed and/or scent to point me in the right direciton.
And it could be exotic, perhaps from bird seed.
- wait for somebody else on this forum to come up with the answer
- if you are a member of the RHS, take it to one of their main gardens for ID (eg. Wisley in Surrey)
- wait for it to flower and maybe fruit, then post photos here
My apologies for drawing a blank at this time.