Arbutus unedo flowering

Arbutus unedo, one of my favourite trees is flowering in my garden at the moment. Also known as the Strawberry tree, it has pink tinged white, bell-shaped flowers which hang in clusters from the branches and which are magnets for bees and butterflies.

Arbutus unedo flowering

The strawberry tree is full bloom is a fantastic sight

Flowers and fruit of arbutus unedo

Flowers and fruit appear at the same time

These flowers will become next years fruit, which unusually appear at the same time as the flowers. The fruit is said to be edible, but doesn’t taste like a strawberry, and can be used to make jam or liqueur. The birds eat them before I get chance to!

Arbus unedo is an evergreen shrub with a bushy habit. However, you can prune the bottom branches off so that it reveals the brown-red bark which peels rather attractively. It is a member of the Ericaceae family so the leaves go yellow if it is not on acid soil – I give mine an Ericaceous feed.

On a miserable, dull day, this little string of berries seem to light up out of the greyness! I like to grow shrubs and trees that produce berries, so that the birds have some food in the winter.

String o' Berries

Arbutus unedo (otherwise known as the Strawberry tree) is unusual in that the current year flowers appear as the fruit from the previous year’s flowers, ripen. The fruits are said to be edible, but the blackbirds seem to eat them before I get chance to do anything with them! A wonderfully wildlife-friendly tree – I have previously posted a photo of a butterfly on the flowers of Arbutus unedo and bees love the flowers too!

Arbutus unedo

When we visited Pencarrow house in Cornwall earlier this year, we were told the story of how an 19th century owner, Sir William Molesworth, bought the first specimen of Araucaria araucana, and planted it in a solemn ceremony before a house party. Upon touching its prickly leaves, the noted barrister Charles Austin remarked “It would be a puzzle for a monkey”. His remark has given the tree its common name of Monkey Puzzle.

This is a macro of the end of one of the branches of a young Monkey Puzzle tree in a local park.

Monkey Puzzle tree, Araucaria araucana