Strawberry Tree, Arbutus
shrub of the family Ericaceae (Andromède, Heather, Rhododendron).

Etymology : the name 'unedo' is explained by Pliny the Elder as being derived from unum edo, "I eat one" (reminding the edible fruit).
Origin of species: arbutus andrachne and arbutus unedo (pictures opposite) are Mediterranean species, and Arbutus menziesii an American species, discovered by Menziès in 1792 (tree of 30 is m).
Habitat: the Arbutus prefers the sour soils (of peaty soil). It does well in a sun-exposed site or half shade. It develops better in the mild regions, on the Atlantic border of Europe for example or on the Mediterranean coast. Its fructification is slowed down in less mild climates. But the global warming allows it to fit progressively into continental climates.
Hardiness: zone 7 (it supports cold until -17 °C or 1 °F).
Lifespan: 100-400 years.
Dark brown bark - shedding in strap-like fibers.
Persistent foliage.

Difference arbutus andrachne arbutus unedo arbutus menziesii
Origin Oriental Mediterranean coast Western Mediterranean coast West of North America
Size 12 m 5 m 30 m, 9 m in culture
Leaves lengthened, ovate, dark green, shining on the top, pale green underneath,
smooth margin.
11 cm, oval lengthened, dark green, shining on the top, pale green underneath, toothed (rounded teeth). toothed margin
Flowers in March-April, drooping white, in the form of bells, grouped (by about twenty) in drooping clusters, in October-November. They take one year to produce fruits. upright, 1 - 20 cm, in May

Round fruit (arbutus-berry) fleshy, in granular, red surface. It is edible. It matures next winter. It is one of the rare trees to carry fruits in winter.
Use: the fruit of the Arbutus is edible. It is possible to eat it freshly (but it contains many small seeds) or in jam, in jelly, in stewed fruit, or to distil it to make an alcoholic beverage. The arbutus is also a nice decorative garden tree, planted isolated or in hedge, which gladdens the garden because its fruits persist in winter.


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