Arbutus unedo is a fabulous evergreen plant, native to the Mediterranean and parts of western Europe. It can be grown as a shrub or small tree reaching heights up to 10m.
The foliage is dark green and glossy with a serrated margins. When the new foliage emerges it has a red margin offering a beautiful contrast to the dark green.
The best season for admiring the Strawberry tree is the Autumn when the flowers are produced and the fruits from the previous year ripen simultaneously.
The flowers are small, white and bellshaped, borne in clusters often made of up to 30 individual flowers. The fruits are small, spherical and with a rough texture. They ripen to a deep red and from a distance resemble strawberries, hence the name! This is where the similarities end though as the fruit, whilst edible, has been described as bland or insipid to taste.
Even the bark on a Strawberry tree is an attractive feature, peeling in long, narrow strips reveling the coppery orange colours underneath.
Arbutus unedo will grow on most moist-well drained soils and surprisingly for this family will tolerate lime. It is also resistant to urban pollution and coastal sites though not cold northern or easterly winds.
Name: Arbutus unedo
Common name: Strawberry tree
Height: 5-10m tall
Demands: Moist - well drained soil. Will tolerate chalk, urban pollution and strong (not cold) winds. Dislikes root disturbance so needs to be planted in its final position.
Foliage: Dark green and glossy. Evergreen
Flower: Cluster of tiny white bells
Fruit: Small spherical fruit, ripening to deep red and resemble strawberries
Bark: Rough, peeling in long strips exposing orange underneath
Good for: Urban locations, coastal areas, small gardens, evergreen screening.
FACT: The Bear and the Strawberry Tree form part of the coat of arms for the city of Madrid where it is known as the Madroño tree.