The Arran Whitebeam (Sorbus arranensis) is a species of plant in the Rosaceae family. It is endemic to the island of Arran in Scotland.
Range and habitatEdit
The species is threatened by habitat loss and only 283 Sorbus arranensis were recorded as mature trees in 1980. The species is protected in Glen Diomhan off Glen Catacol, at the north end of the island by a partly fenced off National Nature Reserve, and are monitored by staff from Scottish Natural Heritage. In its native states its distribution is restricted to Abhainn Bheag (Uisge Solus), Glen Diomhan (and tributary), Glen Catacol, Allt nan Calman, Allt Dubh, Gleann Easan Biorach and Glen Iorsa (Allt-nan-Champ). The trees are found in small remnants of woodland on inaccessible steep slopes, and grow on acidic soils.
S. arranensis, evoked most collecting interest in 1870–1890 and 1920–1940, although older herbarium specimens exist.
The Sorbus group are apomictic, producing viable seed without the need for pollination and fertilisation. Each time this hybrid cross occurs a new clone is effectively produced. The trees developed in a highly complex fashion, which involved the Common whitebeam (Sorbus aria) giving rise to the more robust Rock Whitebeam (Sorbus rupicola) which is still found on Holy Isle. This hybrid species interbred with the Rowan/Mountain Ash (Sorbus aucuparia) to produce S. arranesis. The Bastard Mountain Ash (Sorbus pseudofennica) arose from a further cross between S. arranensis and the Mountain Ash (S. aucuparia).
Smart showed by using physical characteristics that the species were separate and not a result of random variation. Some overlap does however occur and this suggests that some hybridising may occur between the two species.