Arbutus unedo

Arbutus unedo, commonly known as the strawberry tree, is an evergreen shrub or small tree that belongs to the heather family (Ericaceae). It is native to the Mediterranean region, western Europe, and Ireland, and is widely cultivated as an ornamental plant.

Here are some key characteristics of Arbutus unedo:

  • Size: Arbutus unedo can grow up to 10-15 meters (33-49 feet) tall, but is often seen as a smaller shrub. It has a spreading habit and can grow up to 8 meters (26 feet) wide.
  • Leaves: The leaves of Arbutus unedo are dark green, glossy, and leathery, with a pointed tip. They are about 5-10 cm (2-4 inches) long and 2-4 cm (0.8-1.6 inches) wide.
  • Flowers: The flowers of Arbutus unedo are bell-shaped and white or pinkish, and appear in clusters from October to December. The flowers are followed by round, orange-red berries that resemble strawberries, which ripen the following year.
  • Habitat: Arbutus unedo is commonly found in rocky, coastal areas and on hillsides in its native range. It is drought-tolerant and prefers well-drained, acidic soil.
  • Uses: Arbutus unedo is primarily grown as an ornamental plant for its attractive flowers and fruit. The fruit can be eaten raw or used to make jam or liqueur. The wood of the plant is hard and durable, and has been used in furniture-making and carving.
  • Cultural significance: Arbutus unedo has cultural significance in some countries. In Ireland, it is associated with the Celtic festival of Samhain (Halloween), and is sometimes called the "Irish strawberry tree." In Portugal, the fruit is used to make a traditional liqueur called medronho.
  • Conservation status: Arbutus unedo is not considered to be a threatened species, and is widely cultivated as an ornamental plant. However, some populations in its native range may be threatened by habitat loss or overexploitation of the fruit.