Arbutus unedo
Common Name: strawberry tree 
Type: Broadleaf evergreen
Family: Ericaceae
Native Range: Southern Europe, western Asia, northern Africa
Zone: 7 to 10
Height: 10.00 to 15.00 feet
Spread: 10.00 to 15.00 feet
Bloom Time: October to December
Bloom Description: Pinkish white
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Flowering Tree
Flower: Showy, Fragrant
Leaf: Evergreen
Fruit: Showy, Edible
Other: Winter Interest

Culture

Winter hardy to USDA Zones 7-10 where it is easily grown in average, consistently moist, well-drained soils in full sun to part shade. Established plants have some drought tolerance.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Arbutus unedo, commonly called strawberry tree, is a broadleaf evergreen shrub or small tree that is native from the Mediterranean to Ireland. It typically grows in a multi-stemmed form, but can be trained as a single trunk tree. It matures to 10-15' tall but infrequently grows to as much as 30' tall. Mature trunks and branches are covered with grayish-brown bark which peels and flakes to reveal an attractive reddish-brown inner bark. Urn-shaped, aromatic, pinkish-white flowers in drooping panicles (to 2" long) bloom in October, with bloom often continuing until January. Long-stemmed, spherical, green fruits (to 1"diameter) appear in winter after the flowers, but take almost a full year to ripen. As new white flowers begin to bloom in October, the fruits from the preceding winter ripen to strawberry red, leaving the plant with the unusual situation of having both attractive flowers and ripe fruit at the same time. Although the ripe fruits (each to 3/4" in diameter) have the same color as strawberries, they unfortunately do not have the same flavor as strawberries (exceedingly bland). Glossy, leathery, obovate, dark green leaves (to 4" long) have red stems and serrate margins.

Genus name comes from the Latin name. It is a combination of the Latin words unum meaning one and edo meaning eat resulting in "I eat one" in reference to the edible fruit.

Problems

No serious insect or disease problems. Flowers and fruit may be damaged in cold winter conditions. Aphids may appear. Watch for fungal leaf spot.

Garden Uses

Accent /specimen. Woodland garden. Shrub border. Screen. Hedge. Four-season ornamental interest.