HV-48a: Strawberry Tree!

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 Eastern Strawberry Tree

Eastern Strawberry tree (4)

Several species in the genus Arbutus are ornamentals. A. andrachne (the Eastern Strawberry Tree) has small non-edible berries and cinnamon-colored bark. It is often confused with a hybrid, A. andrachnoides , which has small, hard non-edible fruit and perfectly smooth bark ranging from deep red to bright yellow.

Description Strawberry tree is an evergreen broadleaf shrub or small tree with a spreading, picturesque habit, that is known for its orange-red spherical fruit (color of strawberries) borne on the limbs in the fall.


IDENTIFICATION: The Strawberry Tree, grows to 15 to 35 feet tall, evergreen leaves are dark green, glossy, two to four inches long, up to an inch wide with a serrated edge.Young leaves have red veins.  Blossoms are white (occasionally pale pink), bell-shaped, like a blueberry blossom, honey scented. Fruit is a red berry to 3/4 of an inch through,  rough surface, maturing 12 months. In southern US the tree is about 10 feet tall. Older specimens have gnarled trunk and branches. Many cultivars including “Compacta, Rubra, Elifn King, Quercifolia, Croomei, Melita, and Werner.

Eastern Strawberry tree (3)Eastern Strawberry tree (7)Eastern Strawberry tree (6)

TIME OF YEAR: Fruit usually ripens in later summer or fall. Mealy, amber flesh. Tree blooms autumn into winter

ENVIRONMENT: Native to rocky well-drained soil, full sun except in deserts where it needs partial shade

METHOD OF PREPARATION: Out of hand, jams, jellies, pies, candied fruit, wine and spirits. See recipes below.

Strawberry trees grow slowly. They prefer a well-drained acidic site, with either full sun or partial shade. Once established they are considered entirely drought tolerant

Strawberry tree (3)

 Strawberry Tree Jam

Two pounds of fruit

A pound of sugar

Four ounces orange liquor

Slowly boil the fruit with a little water until soft. Press through a mill then reheat with the sugar and liqueur. Simmer until a drop mounds on a chilled dish.

Option: Add some cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and vanilla for added flavor.

Strawberry Tree Jelly

Arbutus berries, sugar, water.

Rinse fruits. Put them in a preserving pan and cover with cold water almost completely. . Bring on the heat and cook for about fifteen minutes over low heat. Pass the fruit through a cheesecloth, pressing well to catch any juice.

Weigh it.  Mix the juice with its weight of sugar.  Simmer over low heat, skimming rather soft at times. Cooking is complete when the juice forms small beads. Cool before placing in jars.


And you can make tea from Arbutus mensiesii bark, the bark can make tea to treat stomach ailments and to reduce anxiety.
Strawberry tree (9)