‘Strawberry Tree’

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

  • About

‘Strawberry tree’ or arbutus, Arbutus unedo, originated in the Mediterranean region. It is an attractive tree which in favourable conditions grows up to 10 m (30') high. It is cultivated chiefly for ornament, since it has attractive white flowers, shiny leaves, and orange-red, strawberry-sized fruit.

These are edible, but somewhat acid and lacking in flavour. They are used for making jams and jellies; and in Turkey a kind of vinegar.

A couple of other species native to the E. Mediterranean region and the Canary Islands have similar fruits which can be eaten fresh or candied. The madrona, A. menziesii, of the Pacific coast of N. America has scarlet fruit which were eaten, fresh or dried, by local Indian tribes and early settlers.