Strawberry tree fruit edible

Strawberry Tree Care: How To Grow A Strawberry Tree

Everyone knows what a tree is and what a strawberry is, but what is a strawberry tree? According to strawberry tree information, this is a lovely little evergreen ornamental, offering lovely flowers and strawberry-like fruit. Read on for tips on how to grow a strawberry tree and its care.

What is a Strawberry Tree?

The strawberry tree (Arbutus unedo) is a charming shrub or small tree that is extremely decorative in your garden. It’s a relative of the madrone tree, and even shares the same common name in some regions. You can grow this plant as a multi-trunked shrub in a hedge, or prune it down to one trunk and grow it as a specimen tree.

Growing Strawberry Trees

If you start growing strawberry trees, you’ll

find that they have many delightful features. The shedding bark on trunks and branches is attractive. It’s a deep, reddish brown and becomes gnarled as the trees age.

The leaves are oval with a serrate edge. They are a shiny dark green, while the petiole stems attaching them to the branches are bright red. The tree produces abundant bunches of tiny white blossoms. They hang like bells at the branch tips and, when pollinated by bees, they produce strawberry-like fruit the following year.

Both flowers and fruits are attractive and ornamental. Unfortunately, strawberry tree information suggests that the fruit, while edible, is quite bland and tastes more like pear than berry. So don’t start growing strawberry trees expecting real strawberries. On the other hand, taste the fruit to see if you like it. Wait until it is ripe and falls from the tree. Alternatively, pick it off the tree when it gets a little squishy.

How to Grow a Strawberry Tree

You’ll do best growing strawberry trees in USDA zones 8b through 11. Plant the trees in full sun or partial sun, but be sure you find a site with well-draining soil. Either sand or loam works well. It grows in either acidic or alkaline soil.

Strawberry tree care involves regular irrigation, especially the first few years after planting. The tree is reasonably drought tolerant after establishment, and you don’t have to worry about its root breaking up sewers or cement.

How to grow: the strawberry tree

There are a number of forms. Best known is Arbutus unedo f. rubra, which differs only in having dark-pink flowers – a colour I think rather clashes with the fruit. There are also several smaller cultivated varieties: ‘Atlantic’, ‘Compacta’ and ‘Elfin King’, which, at up to 2m (6ft) tall, can be grown successfully in a large pot, and flowers and fruit when quite young. You may also come across ‘Quercifolia’ which, as its name suggests, has leaves that look rather like oak.

Growing tips

Strawberry trees are perfectly hardy in this country but will not flourish if exposed to harsh winds. Young plants can suffer damage in very cold weather, so protect them through the first winter, either with windbreak material or the thickest gauge of horticultural fleece. Otherwise they are not fussy, thriving in both southern and western coastal regions and in towns, since the evergreen leaves shrug off atmospheric pollution. They will grow in sandy, loamy and even clay soils, as long as there is no waterlogging. It should be reasonably fertile but Arbutus unedo is the most tolerant of all the genus of alkaline conditions, even growing on chalk. They are happy in sun or semi-shade. Pruning is unnecessary, unless the plant outgrows its allotted space, but it should be carried out in late winter.

How to propagate

Seeds can be sown on the surface of a good seed compost, when ripe in late autumn, and put in a cold frame. Alternatively, take semi-ripe cuttings in late summer and put them in a windowsill propagator to strike.

Good companions

Arbutus unedo makes an excellent specimen tree/shrub in grass or on the edge of woodland. It can also be grown successfully in a large shrub border, where it mingles well with other ericaceous plants with similar flowers, such as enkianthus or pieris, as well as rhododendrons and camellias, but giving colour at a different time of year. It can be used as part of an informal hedge in coastal areas.

Where to buy

Reader offer

Gardening readers can buy three Arbutus unedo, supplied in 9cm (3½in) pots, for £12.99. Plants will be dispatched in May 2005. Credit card orders only – call 01424 797888, quoting ref TE369. Offer closes on November 30, 2004. Delivery can be made to all UK addresses.

Strawberry Tree Fruit: What is it and How to Cook with it

The strawberry tree (Arbutus unedo) is a native fruit tree to the Mediterranean basin, Western Europe, France and Ireland. It belongs to the Ericaceae family, the same as that of the popular blueberry and is also known as “Irish strawberry tree”, or cain or cane apple.

Although the strawberry tree is commonly used for ornamental reasons, the red berry fruit yielded by these evergreens is edible and remarkably similar to large cherries, except for the rough textured exterior skin. Once opened, the skin reveals a soft and grainy intense yellow pulp with a refreshing flavour, both sweet and sour.

Strawberry trees yield autumnal and winter fruits which usually ripen between November and December. That said, it’s still not a commonly found fruit, but it’s definitely worth trying if you are lucky enough to come across it when in season.

The Benefits of Strawberry Tree Fruit

Strawberry tree fruit is also rich in therapeutic properties because it’s a great source of vitamins, tannins and pectins being full of anthocyanins and antioxidant polyphenols. There are also vitamins, including vitamin C: 100 g of fruits contain about 180 mg, so about 3 times the amount that can be found in an orange.

Strawberry tree fruit are also a natural remedy for combatting respiratory, and above all intestinal inflammation. Strawberry tree infusions are rich in antioxidants and tannins and can be used as a urinary antiseptic, while the decoction of strawberry tree leaves and roots can help to combat rheumatic pains.

Corbezzoli di Sardegna – Carlo – Flickr

Cooking with Strawberry Tree Fruit

The fruits of the strawberry tree can be eaten fresh or preserved in jams, liqueurs and syrups. The jam is excellent for filling whole wheat tarts prepared and the whole fruit adds a little extra oomph to cakes, biscuits and sweet buns. With the arbutus you can also prepare a particular vinegar, to be used to dress salads and cruditées.

Strawberry Fruit Tree Marmalade

To prepare this tasty jam, perfect for breakfast, take about a kilo of strawberry trees, put in a pot covered with cold water and bring to a boil.

Cook for about 20 minutes. Once the fruit is ready, drain and put in a fine sieve, in order to eliminate the seeds and obtain a smooth puree. In a saucepan add the puree, a third of the weight in brown sugar and the juice of a lemon. Cook until the jam has thickened.

Strawberry Fruit Tree Honey

Strawberry tree honey is very rare and valuable. It has a fine and creamy consistency, with very fine crystals, when it is liquid an intense amber color that becomes lighter when honey solidifies. The taste is bitterish, with hints of coffee, cocoa bean and rhubarb – perfect for true connoisseurs!

Connect With Us!

PHOTO: Chris A/Flickrby Jessica Walliser February 9, 2016

A unique small tree, prized for both its lovely flowers and edible fruits, the strawberry tree (Arbutus unedo) is a native of Europe. Although this broad-leaved evergreen is hardy only in USDA zones 7 through 10, its many positive attributes make it well worth growing throughout most of the southern U.S., as well as in coastal areas up and down the West Coast.

Meet The Strawberry Tree

Reaching a mature height of 10 to 25 feet, the strawberry tree has dark-green, glossy, 3-inch-long leaves and produces delicate panicles of small, bell-shaped, white flowers that resemble those of a blueberry plant and smell a little like honey.

The tree comes into flower in the autumn, and upon pollination, is quickly followed by small, round fruits. The bumpy-skinned fruit takes up to a year to mature and ripens from a pale yellow to a bright red. The mature fruits are often still clinging to the branches when the following year’s blossoms begin to open, covering the tree with a gorgeous combination of fruits and flowers every autumn. Plants are self-fertile, so only one specimen is required for good fruit set. The nectar of the strawberry tree is a favorite of pollinating bees.

As the tree ages, the branches twist and gnarl, and the bark begins to fissure, lending additional interest to this beautiful, edible landscape plant.

What Do Strawberry Tree Fruits Taste Like?

While the ripe fruits aren’t particularly sweet, their fig-like flavor and licorice-like scent is said to make delicious preserves and pies. Their flavor is nothing like that of a real strawberry, and the fruit must be picked only when very ripe to avoid a grainy texture and slightly astringent flavor. In Ireland, the strawberry tree is called the cane apple or the Killarney strawberry tree, and in Portugal, a brandy liqueur is made from the ripe fruits. It’s also prized for its medicinal qualities in some cultures.

Where To Plant A Strawberry Tree

A beautifully ornamental tree, the strawberry tree is often used as a small landscape tree or hedge specimen in areas of North America where it is hardy. To maintain the plant as a multi-stemmed shrub, a simple yearly pruning is all that’s required.

Because the strawberry tree is a native of the Mediterranean region, it’s quite tolerant of dry climates and is a popular ornamental plant in California and many southern states. It prefers full sun to partial shade and is a fairly slow grower. Well-drained, lean, acidic soils are best. Strawberry trees are salt-tolerant, making them a good choice for coastal areas and salt-plagued soils.

As a member of the heath family, there are many named cultivars of the strawberry tree, including the short-statured selections Elfin King and Compacta, the pale pink-flowered variety Rubra, and the compact, dark pink-flowered Oktoberfest. Most cultivars tend to be larger fruited than the straight species.

Downsides To The Strawberry Tree

If the fruits aren’t harvested for use in the kitchen, they become an important food source for wildlife. Birds greatly enjoy the fruits, especially during the winter months. But if the birds neglect to glean the fruit off the tree and it drops to the ground, it will make quite a mess, especially if the tree hangs over cars, buildings or sidewalks.

Although this plant is easy to grow and fairly trouble-free, potential pest issues include aphids and whiteflies. If a coating of sticky honeydew is noticed underneath the tree’s canopy, check the branches carefully for these tiny, sap-sucking insects. Both can be controlled with applications of horticultural oil or insecticidal soap, used according to label instructions.

Strawberry trees are a terrific choice for gardeners who reside in milder climates. Their striking flowers, fruits, and form make strawberry trees a great plant with four seasons of interest.

Landscape Plants

  • Evergreen shrub/tree, 8-12(35) ft tall, similar width; red-brown attractive bark, shaggy. Leaves simple, alternate, elliptic-oblong to elliptic-ovate, 5-10 cm long, tip acute, base wedge-shaped (cuneate), margin serrate, glossy dark green above, glabrous, paler below; petiole, 6 mm long, glandular, red. Flower urn-shaped, like blueberry, 6 mm long, white to pinkish, in clusters (panicles) about 5 cm long; blooms in winter or early spring. Fruit, spherical orange-red (“strawberry-like”), about 1.5-2 cm across, matures in fall.
  • Full sun, well-drained, acid to neutral soil. No summer water needed when established (good tap root). Does not flourish in a humid climate. Can be trained as a tree to emphasize bark, but more sensitive to winter kill.
  • Hardy to USDA Zone (6)7 Native from southwestern Ireland to the Mediterranean region. A. andrachne is known at the Grecian Strawberry Tree, it resembles A. menziesii but smaller.
  • The fruit is edible when fully ripe, but it’s gritty and lacks flavor. Jacobson (1996) points out that the specific epithet unedo is from the Latin unum edo meaning “I eat one”. Suggesting that the fruit is so poor tasting that a person would not eat more than one. However, it “rather surprisingly, produces excellent jellies and jams, and its high pectin content gives rapid setting without additives. The product has a pronounced ‘strawberry’ taste” (Mabberley, D.J., and P.J. Placito. 1993. Algarve Plants and Landscape, Oxford Univ. Press). This source also indicates that in Portugal a distilled sprit (a brandy) is made from the fruit of Arbutus unedo, called aguardente de medronhos (sometimes, medronheiro). Fruit is harvested between September and November and placed in open-topped barrels (vasilhas) and water added to start the fermentation. To prevent a second fermentation (i.e., vinegar) a layer of mud (adobe) is put over the top to exclude oxygen. After 3-4 months the mass is transferred to a copper still, boiled and evaporated alcohol condensed and collected. “Better qualities of medronho undergo multiple distillations”. Usually, at least in the province of Algarve, the medronho is sold to licensed bottling companies who mix it with alcohol and “various essences”. Export is forbidden, possibly because the product contains too much methanol.
  • Oregon State Univ. campus: east of Ocean Administration (near 26th and Monroe).

Strawberry Tree

Strawberry Tree

The Strawberry Tree, Arbutus ‘Marina’ is certain to be the next magnificent centerpiece in your patio or garden. Arbutus ‘Marina’ is an evergreen hybrid and a medium sized tree with rosy pink fall flowers that can bring a strikingly beautiful look to any landscape design. With its twisted, glossy reddish trunks, pretty fruit, and perky little flowers, this Strawberry Tree is sure to fit nicely into many garden situations and conditions. Homeowners may want to add nighttime landscape lighting to highlight the beautiful features of the multi-trunk structure and set the “”wow”” factor on high.

This Strawberry Tree is an excellent design plant that will bring year-round interest to your garden. Homeowners in Southern California will appreciate its drought-tolerant features. In fact, Arbutus ‘Marina’ thrives in the Southern California sunshine and needs little water once established.

As a medium-sized evergreen, you can expect a decent amount of dense shade once it starts to grow taller and the crown spreads out. It is a slow to moderate grower, but if you are looking for a mature Strawberry tree with lots of shade capabilities, Moon Valley Nurseries has a large inventory of beautiful, medium-sized trees ready to be delivered and planted into your landscape by our experienced crew.

Homeowners in Southern California looking for a water-wise tree with lots of beauty and character will find much to love about this gorgeous conversation starter. This Strawberry tree fits well with a variety of landscape themes, including desert themes surrounded by succulents. Some homeowners may want to make this tree a focal point in a colorful garden, rising up with a mix of California natives such as Manzanita and Ceanothus.

Moon Valley Nurseries offers free design consultation services at our nurseries so that we can help you plan a colorful, eye-pleasing garden landscape for your property in Southern California.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *