Arbutus unedo or strawberry tree is a small tree or shrub whose fruit looks like strawberries.
It grows better in a Mediterranean climate and will rarely produce fruit in colder climates.
It resists coastal conditions and air pollution.
Arbutus unedo is a small tree of 5-10 m which often grows as a shrub, with branches starting low. The stem is up to 80 cm in diameter.
Leaves are dark green and glossy, 5-10 cm long and 2-3 cm wide.
The flowers are white, sometimes light pink, hermaphrodite, bell-shaped, 4-6 mm in diameter and appear in umbels of 10-30 flowers in autumn.
The fruit is a berry of 1-2 cm in diameter with a rough surface. It takes 12 months before for the fruit to ripen, so the tree often bears flowers and fruit simultaneously. The taste is rather bland and mealy.
Arbutus, Killarney Strawberry Tree, Strawberry Madrone, Strawberry Tree
Arbutus cassinifolia, Arbutus crispa, Arbutus croomii, Arbutus integrifolia, Arbutus intermedia, Arbutus laurifolia, Arbutus microphylla, Arbutus nothocomaros, Arbutus pavarii, Arbutus procumbens, Arbutus salicifolia, Arbutus serratifolia, Arbutus turbinata, Arbutus unedo var. ellipsoidea, Arbutus unedo var. salicifolia, Arbutus unedo f. subcrenata, Arbutus vulgaris
Arbutus: the Latin name for the plant
Unedo: would be derived from the Latin unum edo (I eat one), referring to the bland taste which would not incite to eat more than one
Mediterranean area although they are also found in the wild in Ireland
Forest, scrub and rocky slopes, often on limestone and sandstone
USDA zones 7-11
Sandy, loamy to clay soils but with good drainage. Salt tolerant.
Sun, partial shade
Mature plants are drought resistent
Seed or cuttings.
- use fresh seed or soak the seeds a few days in lukewarm water
- sow at the end of the winter, sprouting happens in spring
- sow in moist potting soil
- protect the seedlings from direct sunlight
- ensure good ventilation to avoid rotting of seeds and seedlings
- transplant when the seedlings are big enough to be handled
- plant in place when the seedlings are 20-30 cm tall
- in november-december
- take hardwood cuttings of 15-20 cm, preferably with a heel
- plant the cuttings in a cold frame
- use enough cuttings as success rate is quite small. Success rate can be enhanced by using cutting hormone.