a species with a look all of its own. It’s
adored by many and definitely calls for a closer
look. The Woodland Trust suggests saying goodbye
to winter - and making a bit of a show at the
same time - with the addition of Arbutus unedo,
better known as the strawberry tree.
small, evergreen tree is native to both south-west
Ireland (especially near Killarney) and the
Mediterranean region. While often found growing
in the south of Ireland, this species would
be an impressive addition to any garden. Its
dark green, glossy leaves and reddish, papery
bark are quite something in their own right.
However, the tree is without doubt at its finest
in autumn, showing off pretty, white, dropping
clusters of flowers. The pale flowers, which
are sometimes tinged with pink or green, are
a contrast to autumn’s brightly coloured
‘strawberries’ (or round, red fruit
resembling strawberries) actually take a year
to ripen. They are quite tough and, although
edible, are apparently not particularly tasty.
Indeed the name ‘unedo’ implies
that after one taste, you are unlikely
to repeat the experience! Perhaps this is Nature’s
intention. The fruit provides a welcome source
of food for our birds, including thrushes and
blackbirds, during autumn and early winter.
your strawberry tree in a well-drained site,
preferably in full sun and with shelter from
cold winds. This is a wonderfully simple way
to do your bit for wildlife, while brightening
up your garden. The colourful bark, leaves,
flowers and fruit will set this one apart from
its perhaps more modest neighbours.
WTPL/Peter Paice from Belfast
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