Native to the Mediterrenean region, Arbutus Unedo is an evergreen tree of the family Ericaceae, making it related to cranberries, huckleberries, and blueberries.
The tree, which grows up to 30 feet (9 m) high, produces bunches of fruits that resemble strawberries, resulting in it commonly being referenced as a 'Strawberry tree'.
Arbutus unedo, Strawberry Tree photograph by Miltos Gikas.
Although the trees don’t produce much, their semi-sweet fruits are used in cooking, wines, and preserves.
The tree also develops a red, strawberry-like colour to its bark during its development, which often gives gardens and landscapes a unique look.
Arbutus unedo leaves, image by Manuel m. v.; CC.
Arbutus Unedo can grow to resemble either a shrub or a tree, and typically grows in soils which are normally unfavourable for other plants. Moist and high pH soils are the most ideal for plant growth.
Once Arbutus Unedo reaches maturity, it’s incredibly drought resistant.
Strawberry trees are generally low-maintenance plants and don’t require too much work to grow properly.
However, they can be adversely affected by cold weather, so it is usually a good idea to have plants covered in some way during the winter months.
Sunlight can also be an issue as the trees much prefer having lots of sun exposure, so placement of the plant near an heavily-shaded area should be avoided.
Pruning isn’t necessary most of the time, but if unwanted overgrowth is detected, then prune during late winter or spring.
Sometimes, fungal diseases or parasitic insects can negatively affect branches, causing them to decay or infected, this necessitates them being removed to prevent spread to other parts of the plant.
Strawberry Tree photograph by Leonora (Ellie) Enking; CC.
Blooming Arbutus unedo flowers with fruit in the background, photograph by Bri Weldon; CC.