More winter interest: Arbutus unedo (Strawberry Tree)

I just couldn’t resist throwing another plant into the mix, as it is looking so good at the moment! The Strawberry Trees in the theatrical border are currently bearing lots of very colourful fruits and so I just couldn’t resist adding a post about it!

Arbutus unedo is an evergreen shrub or small tree in the plant family Ericaceae, so related to many common garden plants such as heather and Rhododendron. Although, unlike many other members of this family which prefer to grow in acid soils, the strawberry tree is perfectly happy growing in neutral or alkaline (limey) soils.
It’s common name strawberry tree comes from the fact the ripe fruits resemble strawberries. Each fruit takes a full year to develop, and fruits mature at the same time as the new flush of flowers are produced. The fruits are edible, however the latin species name ‘unedo’ points to the fact they are not particularly tasty, coming from the phrase ‘unum edo’ literally translating to ‘I eat one’. The fruits are more suited to making jams rather than eating fresh! In Portugal a strong brandy known as medronho is produced from the fruit.
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Above: ripe fruits on a plant in the theatrical border

A great plant suited to growing in a wide variety of situations with year round interest….what more can we ask for!!!

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