Arbutus unedo

Arbutus unedo

Strawberry tree


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SKU: 12205701


‘Killarney Strawberry Tree’
Family Ericaceae
Originating from the Mediterranean and Ireland

  • Urban Jungle’s top recommended large shrub or small tree.
  • Evergreen foliage, architectural branching, attractive bark, flowers, and edible decorative fruit.
  • Hardy, particularly in coastal exposure, and very easy to grow in pots or in the ground.
  • Adaptable to any pruning style from hedging to oriental ‘bonsai’ style.

A plant that truly ‘pays the rent’. The ‘Strawberry Tree’ looks good at all times of the year with constantly changing features, all against a backdrop of dark green glossy leaves. The dense foliage can form a shrub when the plant is young, making a good screen at lower levels, ideal for blocking views of fences, oil tanks, sheds, or other utilitarian aspects of gardens. As the plant matures it will naturally develop a canopy of foliage, with dense foliage growth higher up in the plant, exposing some of the trunk and branches, however simple pruning or hedge trimming while the plant is young will keep the shrubby dense foliage at a lower level, making a hedge or a single rounded bushy shape. Alternatively, the lower foliage and branches may be removed to reveal its architectural framework of cinnamon/tan coloured branches and, depending on the plant selected, its multi-trunked habit. Using this method you can create whatever shape of plant you desire; the top growth may be pruned as well, either to make a soft canopy or in a more extreme style, a cloud-pruned shape.

Arbutus produce a floral display when few other plants are contributing colour to the garden. This can be at any time from late summer, through autumn and even into winter and early spring. Bunches of pink-flushed bell-shaped flowers hang in racemes all over the tree, making an impressive display in profusion, and visible from a distance, standing out against the dark backdrop of glossy foliage. The flowers are followed by fruit that starts off green, slowly ripening to have pinky tones, at which stage we are sure they resemble lychees more than strawberries! During the summer months, the fruits take on a yellow colour and finally turn a strong bright red, at which stage they may be eaten. The flesh does have a texture similar to lychee with plenty of sweetness, but lacking any tangy citrus edge. In Portugal, a drink is distilled from the fruit called Madrona, which is reputedly a rough ‘firewater’ vodka-type strong alcoholic shot. Birds of all kinds do enjoy the fruit, so you may need to be quick. Fruits at varying stages of ripening may be present on the tree at the same time, making a red/yellow and green/pink flushed display. They may well persist on the tree until the following season’s flowers appear, making a stunning display.

A plant with so much adaptability, multi-seasonal displays, easy to grow, and with such an abundance of attractive features is rare and possibly unparalleled in horticulture. To add to this Arbutus are happy on most soil types, even poor sandy ones. They will tolerate chalky soil, part shade, and dry conditions. One of the healthiest plants we have seen grows only 150m from the seafront in Great Yarmouth, so they are happy in coastal exposure. We know many specimens that survived through the worst recent winters of 2009 – 2011 with only superficial damage to branch tips and leaf growth.

Height and spread after 3 – 4 years 1.5m x 1.5m
Semi-mature height and spread, if not pruned, after 6 – 8 years 3m x 2.5m
Potential height and spread after 15 – 20 years 6m x 6m


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Urban Jungle Suffolk

London Road, Weston,
Beccles, Suffolk, NR34 8TT
Opening hours
Nursery 10am to 5pm. March-October
10am to 4pm or dusk if earlier. November-February
Café 10am to 4pm. March-October
10am to 3pm. November-February
Garden Centre Telephone: 01502 219110
Cafe Telephone: 01502 559103

Urban Jungle Norfolk

Ringland Lane, Old Costessey,
Norwich, Norfolk NR8 5BG
Opening hours
Nursery 10am to 5pm. March-October
10am to 4pm or dusk if earlier. November-February
Café 10am to 4pm. March-October
10am to 3pm. November-February
Garden Centre Telephone: 01603 744997
Cafe Telephone: 01603 857196

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