Unusual & Old Fashioned Fruit Trees


Strawberry Tree - Arbutus Unedo.


There are some dozen or so  species of Arbutus most of which are smallish trees with the exception of the giant Menziessi variety of North America that can reach 100 feet or more. Arbutus Unedo is a native of the Western Mediterranean and Ireland. This may seem strange as the Med is generally somewhat warmer than Ireland, but it isn't the warmth that the plant loves so much as a fairly steady temperature without harsh extremes and it also likes a humid atmosphere. Having said that it does not like wet feet, or being planted in the shade and it will tolerate moderate frosts and dry spells.

Arbutus Unedo can grow up to 30 feet, but usually only reaches half that and for the small garden there is also an even smaller compact variety. Being a native of Ireland you might expect it to like acid or peat conditions, which it does, but Arbutus will also grow happily in lime or chalky soil. However, once planted it is not a good idea to move a specimen as Arbutus do not like their roots being disturbed. This small evergreen tree produces a cluster of usually white or pinkish flowers in the Autumn followed by small orange/red fruit, or "Strawberries" that are about 1 inch long and fairly hard. The fruit are edible, but not very tasty and take a long time to ripen, up to 1 year  before they are ready.


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