Arbutus Unedo Compacta is better known by many as the Strawberry Tree. Named after the bright strawberry red fruits that develop their colour from orange and yellow shades at first, coloured red by Autumn at the same time as the next crop of attractive pink tinged white flowers appear.
Established Arbutus shrubs display colourful shaggy orange-brown bark and have glossy deep green evergreen foliage making an effective backdrop for the colourful fruits, they make excellent shrubs for borders and do well by the sea. This is the compact variety of Strawberry Tree growing to 2.5 metres wide and tall, it is a bushy shrub suited to gardens of all sizes that can also be grown as a hedge. (using 2-3 plants per metre, trim in Spring)
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Arbutus will grow in most situations although the most exposed and harsh planting sites are better avoided or at least the young shrubs should be protected, they are perfectly hardy once well settled. They prefer good drainage (these shrubs are drought tolerant once well established) and any fertile soil in full sun or a touch of shade.
Pruning is not normally necessary, best undertaken in late Spring before growth starts.
While the bumpy red fruits do not look like Strawberries, they are in fact edible – high in antioxidants and vitamin C they are quite sweet and can be eaten raw but…..they have a pretty sharp aftertaste! Not seen in shops and supermarkets because they don’t travel well, they are useful for jams, preserves and would make an unusual flavour for steeping in spirits such as Vodka or Gin.