Sorbus aucuparia or Serbal de loshunters, a very rustic tree

The Rowan of the hunters, a tree that receives the scientific name of Sorbus aucuparia , is one of the most suitable to have in gardens in temperate-cold climates. In addition, it provides excellent shade , so much so that picnics can be held under its branches and the whole family can be invited

Its flowers are also noteworthy. Although they are small and simple, they appear in such quantity and are so beautiful that it is a pleasure to see them. Do you want to know more about this plant? 


  • 1 Origin and characteristics of Sorbus aucuparia
  • 2 What care do you need?
    • 2.1 Location
    • 2.2 Soil or substrate
    • 2.3 Irrigation
    • 2.4 Subscriber
    • 2.5 Planting time
    • 2.6 Pruning
    • 2.7 Multiplication
    • 2.8 Pests and diseases
    • 2.9 Rusticity
  • 3 What uses does Sorbus aucuparia have?
  • 4 Where can you buy it and how much does it cost?

Origin and characteristics of Sorbus aucuparia

Sorbus aucuparia in habitat

Our protagonist is a deciduous tree native to Europe, from Iceland to Russia, passing through the Iberian Peninsula, Asia and Northeast Africa . It grows in spruce, beech and oak forests. In addition to the hunter’s serbal, it is also commonly called the wild serbal, pajareros, azarollo or capudre.

It is characterized by reaching a height of between 15 and 20 meters . Its crown is very wide, reaching about 5-6 meters, and is made up of leaves that are arranged alternately along the stems. These are compound, imparipinnate, oblong and with serrated edges.

The flowers are grouped in terminal corymb-shaped inflorescences 8 to 15cm in diameter with more than 250 white flowers . Once they are fertilized, the fruit begins to ripen, which will end up adopting a globular shape of bright orange, coral red, pink, yellow or white depending on the variety. These are soft and juicy, so they are easy food for birds, including waxwings and thrushes, who will spread the ingested seeds through their droppings.

What care do you need?

Sorbus aucuparia flowers

Would you like to have a specimen of Sorbus aucuparia in your garden? If so, we recommend following these tips:


Being a large tree, you must plant it in the garden, at a minimum distance of 7 meters from any construction and other tall plants . It can be in a pot, but only during the first years. Tolerates both full sun and partial shade.

Soil or substrate

It is not demanding , but it grows better in those that do not have lime. It is essential that it has good drainage , otherwise its roots will rot.


It is necessary to water frequently, especially during periods of drought. In general, you should water it three or four times in the summer and every 5-6 days the rest of the year. Whenever possible, use rainwater or lime-free water, but if you can’t get it, fill a bucket and let it sit overnight. This way the heavy metals will remain at the bottom, and you will be able to use the water from the upper half of the container.


Especially during spring and summer it is very important that you fertilize it with organic fertilizers , such as chicken manure in the first season and guano in the second. In this way, you will not only achieve excellent growth and development, but will also produce many more fruits that you can taste as soon as they finish ripening, in autumn.

planting time

The ideal time to plant it in the garden is in spring , as soon as the risk of frost has passed.


You can prune it if you see it necessary in autumn or late spring.


Sorbus aucuparia fruits
  • Seeds : they must be cold stratified for a period of 6 to 8 months. They can take about 1 year to germinate.
  • Suckers : you can separate them from the mother plant when they reach a manageable height (about 15-20cm).
  • Varieties : they are multiplied by grafting .

Plagues and diseases

It is very resistant, but it is sensitive to the attack of the rust fungus and that of the borers. Discover how to act in each case:

  • Rust : this disease is caused mainly by Puccina and Melampsora fungi, which penetrate the plant through the roots or wounds, causing the appearance of small red or brown lumps on the underside of the leaves. You can treat your tree with a synthetic (chemical) fungicide such as Fosetil-Al, or with Bordeaux mixture in spring, which is natural. 
  • Borers : they are insects that eat wood while carving galleries under the bark. You can treat it with Fenitrothion or Delmatrin, but if the tree is very weak it is best to cut it down and burn it. Fortunately, you can prevent them by keeping the Sorbus aucuparia well watered and fertilized.


Withstands cold and frost down to -25ºC . Amazing, right? However, tropical and subtropical climates and temperatures of 30ºC or higher do not suit it.

What uses does Sorbus aucuparia have?

This incredible tree has numerous uses, which are:

  • Ornamental : its size, the flowers… everything is so elegant that it looks wonderful in medium and large gardens. In addition, and as we mentioned at the beginning, it gives a good shade, which comes in handy especially in summer.
  • Culinary : the fruits can be eaten fresh, or jams can be made. They are also used in the manufacture of Russian vodka.
    The flowers are used to make soothing drinks.
  • Turnery : the wood is strong and elastic, so it is used to make, for example, the legs of beds, tables, chairs, etc.

And as if that were not enough, as it has deep roots , it is widely used to strengthen unstable soils in torrential basins.

Where can you buy it and how much does it cost?

Sorbus aucuparia leaves

As with all kinds of plants, the Sorbus aucuparia can only be found for sale in nurseries and garden stores in those climatic zones where it is known to thrive without problems . For example, myself, living in the south of Mallorca (Balearic Islands), I have a lot of difficulties in achieving it; in fact, I haven’t found it anywhere yet, but I know that they sell it in Galicia. But nowadays, thanks to the Internet, distances have been shortened, and we can get plants from anywhere in the world.(It must always be done legally, making sure that the species that interest us have passed the controls of both CITES and Customs and that they are not in danger of extinction). So if the nurseries in your area do not have it, do not hesitate to look for online stores. You will surely find it there.

What is the price? Well, it depends on the size. A young man of about 20 centimeters can cost you 1 or 2 euros, but a bigger one of 1m in height already goes for about 20 or 30 euros depending on where you buy it. If you are not in a big hurry, I recommend much more buying a young seedling, as it will be easier for it to adapt; although if you want to have an already grown specimen, let it make a garden, don’t hesitate and go for one

Sorbus aucuparia or Serbal de loshunters, a very rustic tree

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