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1879 Views 3 Replies Last post: May 28, 2013 9:33 PM by MikeHardman RSS
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May 27, 2013 8:34 PM

Help needed to identify my son's seedling

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?



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  • 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.



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