This week on ‘In the Spotlight’ we look at the Irish Strawberry Tree. With its ‘lily of the valley’ style flowers and its unusual fruit, it is a remarkable plant for more reasons then one.
The Irish Strawberry Tree – Arbutus unedo, simultaneously bears both flowers and fruit in Autumn through to Winter. Producing beautiful white or pink bell shaped blooms in 5cm long pinnacles and red/orange warty spherical fruits.
The fruit take over a year to ripen, whilst being edible, they more popular with birds than people. Unedo means ‘I eat one’ in Latin, playfully referring to its taste being so bland that you would only ever want to try one. It is native to both County Kerry in Ireland and to parts of southern Europe (mainly Portugal).
As an evergreen tree with winter blooms and year round fruit, it is surrounded by dark green, leathery, red stemmed leaves. Perfect as a small shade tree, a hedge or patio tree due to their thick and lustrous foliage.
Once established this beautiful specimen can withstand harsh elements. As an evergreen tree it shrugs off atmospheric pollution; making them perfect for medium strips and round-a-bout planting. They will grow in sandy, loamy and even clay soils, as long as there is no water logging. They are happy in sun or semi-shade and require little maintenance – pruning is unnecessary, unless the plant outgrows its allotted space, but it should be carried out in late winter.
A great option of small residential urban gardens, supplying colour and lustre year round it is a big favourite among Joanne Green’s maintenance team.