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Killarney Strawberry Tree Arbutus unedo

Phonetic Spelling
ar-BU-tus U-nay-do
Description

Strawberry Tree is an evergreen shrub or small tree in the Heath family native to the Mediterranean region and western Europe. The showy red edible fruits mature in autumn and have a high sugar content but are rather bland tasting.  They can be used to make jams and jellies. Fruit production is variable, dependent on the weather and the fruits bruise easily so this plant has not been grown for commercial fruit production much except for making brandy in Portugal.

It is slow-growing, about 12"-24" a year, and usually reaches a height of 15 feet but can grow up to 35 feet tall. Grow it as a shrub or trained to a tree form to show off its interesting peeling bark.

Strawberry Tree is easy to grow and adaptable to various climates and well-drained soils, including poor ones.  It is tolerant of full sun to partial shade, salt, and drought once established. Lightly prune back the shoots regularly to maintain an attractive shape.  Use as a specimen, for screening or as a small shade tree near a patio.  With its glossy leaves, white flowers, red fruits and exfoliating bark this plant provides four seasons of interest for your landscape.

Insects, Diseases, and Other Plant Problems:  Susceptible to scales and thrips.   Anthracnose, Phytophthora, root rot and rust are occasional disease problems.  This plant struggles in humid climates.  Fruit drop can be messy near hardscaped surfaces.

See this plant in the following landscape:
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • ‘Compacta’
    6-10 feet tall
‘Compacta’
Tags:
#evergreen#sun#showy flowers#small tree#partial shade#small spaces#drought tolerant#interesting bark#slow growing#salt tolerant#winter interest#year-round interest#low flammability#glossy leaves#red fruits#red stems#edible fruits#fall fruits#screening#evergreen tree#messy fruits#ornamental#food source fall#bird friendly#food source soft mast fruit#patio tree#peeling bark#wildlife plants
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • ‘Compacta’
    6-10 feet tall
‘Compacta’
Tags:
#evergreen#sun#showy flowers#small tree#partial shade#small spaces#drought tolerant#interesting bark#slow growing#salt tolerant#winter interest#year-round interest#low flammability#glossy leaves#red fruits#red stems#edible fruits#fall fruits#screening#evergreen tree#messy fruits#ornamental#food source fall#bird friendly#food source soft mast fruit#patio tree#peeling bark#wildlife plants
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Arbutus
    Species:
    unedo
    Family:
    Ericaceae
    Uses (Ethnobotany):
    Leaves have been used in herbal medicine. The wood is hard and useful
    Life Cycle:
    Woody
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Layering
    Seed
    Stem Cutting
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Europe, Asia, North Africa
    Fire Risk Rating:
    low flammability
    Wildlife Value:
    Nectar plant for pollinators and the fruit provides food for birds and small mammals. It is browsed by deer.
    Particularly Resistant To (Insects/Diseases/Other Problems):
    Resistant to Oat root fungus and Armillaria.
    Edibility:
    Red berries are bland-tasting and can be eaten raw or used in jams and jellies as it has a high natural pectin content. Also used to make brandy.
    Dimensions:
    Height: 10 ft. 0 in. - 35 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 8 ft. 0 in. - 20 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Edible
    Tree
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Broadleaf Evergreen
    Habit/Form:
    Dense
    Erect
    Multi-trunked
    Rounded
    Spreading
    Vase
    Growth Rate:
    Slow
    Maintenance:
    Medium
    Texture:
    Fine
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil Texture:
    Clay
    Loam (Silt)
    Sand
    Soil pH:
    Acid (<6.0)
    Neutral (6.0-8.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Moist
    Occasionally Dry
    Available Space To Plant:
    6-feet-12 feet
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Piedmont
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    7b, 7a, 8b, 8a, 9b, 9a, 10b, 10a
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Red/Burgundy
    Fruit Value To Gardener:
    Edible
    Showy
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Fall
    Fruit Type:
    Berry
    Fruit Length:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Width:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Description:
    1/2-1 inch red berries with a rough surface in autumn. Mature in 12 months and are on the tree at the same time as flowers are. Fruits resemble strawberries and the wet fruits can be messy on hardscaped surfaces.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Pink
    White
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Panicle
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Fragrant
    Showy
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Fall
    Winter
    Flower Shape:
    Urn
    Flower Size:
    < 1 inch
    Flower Description:
    Urn-shaped small white or occasionally light pink flowers with a mild fragrance in drooping panicles of 10-30 flowers in autumn. In warm winter climates may bloom into winter. Flowers are similar to that of blueberries.
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Broadleaf Evergreen
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    Leaf Feel:
    Glossy
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Alternate
    Leaf Shape:
    Oblanceolate
    Oblong
    Obovate
    Leaf Margin:
    Serrate
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    3-6 inches
    Leaf Width:
    < 1 inch
    Leaf Description:
    2-4 inches by .8- 1.25 inches glossy green leaves with serrated margins and red stems. The tip is acute, base wedge-shaped (cuneate), undersides paler and glabrous.
  • Bark:
    Bark Color:
    Dark Brown
    Dark Gray
    Surface/Attachment:
    Exfoliating
    Peeling
    Shaggy
    Smooth
    Bark Description:
    Striking, peeling grayish-brown bark reveals reddish-brown underneath.
  • Stem:
    Stem Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Red/Burgundy
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Description:
    Reddish-brown stems
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Coastal
    Lawn
    Patio
    Small Space
    Landscape Theme:
    Cottage Garden
    Edible Garden
    Winter Garden
    Design Feature:
    Screen/Privacy
    Small Tree
    Specimen
    Understory Tree
    Attracts:
    Pollinators
    Small Mammals
    Songbirds
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Drought
    Fire
    Poor Soil
    Salt
    Problems:
    Messy