Arbutus unedo / Image by Jesuskyman (flickr)
The plant in this picture is Arbutus unedo – a lovely, evergreen, compact tree which is highly regarded by gardeners for its ornamental value. This small tree grows up to 10 meters, branches gracefully and produces deep green foliage. Small white or pink flowers appear in autumn. These bell-shaped flowers not only add to the beauty of this lovely tree but also offer sweet nectar to honey bees. Flowers are followed by formation of strawberry-like edible fruit. Fruits changes colors from yellow to red and ultimately to scarlet – making this beautiful tree more attractive. Because of its strawberry-like fruit, Arbutus unedo is also known as Strawberry Tree.
Arbutus unedo is quite easy to grow and does not require much maintenance. Therefore, it makes a good choice for growing along garden borders or form informal hedges. A few smaller and compact varieties of Arbutus unedo are also available. These varieties grow up to 3 meters and make decent specimen plants for small gardens where you can observe attractive flowers and ripening fruits along with fresh green foliage – making a colourful addition to the garden.
Arbutus unedo can be grown easily from seeds or cuttings. It grows in almost any soil but prefers a well-drained lean soil that allows the tree to develop its extensive root system. Young plants benefit from partial shade and slightly moist soil. Once established, mature plants can easily tolerate spells of drought.
Strawberry tree / Image by obni (flickr)
Arbutus unedo branches decently to make a compact, small tree. However, you can prune it easily to keep in the desired shape. Winter is the best time to prune Arbutus unedo.
Popular varieties of Arbutus unedo include:
Arbutus unedo ‘Compacta’: grows up to 2 metres tall eventually and fruits abundantly.
Arbutus unedo ‘Croomei’: grows up to 4 meters and produces reddish flowers.
Arbutus unedo ‘Elfin King’: is a slow growing and dwarf variety that grows up to 1 meter.