Arbutus unedo – The Strawberry Tree

I first came across Strawberry Trees (Latin Arbutus unedo) when I was living in Spain, over 5 years ago. They have them in Madrid because the city’s coat of arms is a bear picking a tree strawberry. But they are tall and I never managed to reach one of the fruits (although also I might not have been there at the right time of year, they are ripe in November and December.)

When I lived in London, I found one in someone’s garden near Epping Forest and found a few ripe fruits on the ground on the street. They were delicious, with a flavour and texture like apricot jam. I always wanted to find another tree to eat more.

A few days ago we found a few Strawberry Trees on the island of Cres (Croatia), most of the fruit wasn’t ripe although we found a few good ones. Then yesterday we saw loads of trees with ripe fruit along the side of the road so we found somewhere to park and found some trees away from the road with loads of ripe fruits. I ate loads, when ripe they are so delicious. Ripe ones are generally dark red and very squashy, generally we found the best ones were on the ground under the trees.

But a little while later I started feeling ill. Thankfully not too bad, just a bit of nausea, but it did go on for a good few hours. We got the ferry back to the mainland and I felt really bad during the journey, thankfully it was only a 20 minute crossing.

So I did some more research, and some people say the when the fruits are over-ripe they start to form alcohol and you can get drunk from them. I didn’t feel like I was drunk though. Interestingly Jolita was fine, although she probably didn’t eat as many as me.

So if you do find a Strawberry Tree, go easy on them!

2 thoughts on “Arbutus unedo – The Strawberry Tree

  1. Hello Rob
    This tree is very common here in the Algarve (the southest region of portugal). It is a “Medronheiro” and the little fruits are the “medronhos”. You can eat the fruits and they are used to produce “medronho” an alchoolic drink very famouse here, especially in Monchique, a small village in the Serra Algarvia.

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