SERVICE TREE, Pyrus domestica, a native of the Mediterranean region, not infrequently planted in southern Europe for its fruit. It has been regarded as a native of England on the evidence of a single specimen, which has probably been planted, now existing in the forest of Wyre. Though not much cultivated its fruit is esteemed by some persons, and therefore two or three trees may very well be provided with a place in the orchard, or in a sheltered corner of the lawn. The tree is seldom productive till it has arrived at a goodly size and age. The fruit has a peculiar acid flavour, and, like the medlar, is fit for use only when thoroughly mellowed by being kept till it has become bletted. There is a pear-shaped variety, pyriformis, and also an appleshaped variety, maliformis, both of which may be propagated by layers, and still better by grafting on seedling plants of their own kind. The fruit is sometimes brought to market in winter. The service is nearly allied to the mountain ash, Pyrus Aucuparia, which it resembles in having regularly primate leaves. P. torminalis is the wild service, a small tree occurring locally in woods and hedges from Lancashire southwards; the fruit is sold in country markets. These, with other species, including P. Aria, white beam, so-called from the leaves which are white and flocculent beneath, form the subgenus Sorbus, which was regarded by Linnaeus as a distinct genus.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)