Arbutus andrachne, Grecian strawberry tree

Arbutus andrachne

Grecian strawberry tree
Family: Ericaceae
USDA Zone: 7?
USDA Plant Hardiness MapSmall tree 10-20 ftSemi-shadeFull sunModerate waterWhite, off-white flowersEdible plant

Arbutus andrachne is a small tree native to the Mediterranean, typically growing to a height of between 10-20 feet. It prefers full sun but is tolerant of semi-shade and moderate watering. In spring, it produces off-white and white flowers. These flowers are then followed by small, strawberry-like fruit which are a red/yellow color when ripe. Though they are edible, they are not particularly palatable, so are generally not consumed, however they are known to have many health benefits. Native to USDA Zone 7-10, it is relatively hardy to temperatures below freezing, however it should have some protection in its first winter outdoors.

This tree is a slow-grower which is why it's important to be sure you've found the right spot for it before planting, as it doesn't do well if transplanted. It requires a nutrient-rich, well-drained soil and will happily reward you with beautiful flowers in the spring and plenty of fruit in the summer. Though Arbutus andrachne hails from warm climates, it can still be grown successfully in colder regions, in pots and containers as long as you take extra care to protect it from cold weather with mulch and insulation.

Once established, the Grecian strawberry tree is drought tolerant and can produce an abundance of fruit in the peak of summer. The fruit itself can be used to make jams, jellies and syrups, as it is packed with antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. Eating the fruit can help ward off infections, boost the immune system, improve digestion and even help protect against heart disease.

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