By TammyWhite
2 years ago

Strawberry Tree fruits

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Arbutus unedo (strawberry tree) is an evergreen shrub or small tree in the familyEricaceae, native to the Mediterranean region and western Europe north to western France and Ireland. Due to its presence in southwest and northwest Ireland, it is known as either "Irish strawberry tree", or cain or cane apple (from the Gaelic name for the tree, caithne), or sometimes "Killarney strawberry tree".

Arbutus unedo grows to 5–10 m (16–33 ft) tall, rarely up to 15 m (49 ft), with a trunk diameter of up to 80 cm (31 in). It grows in hardiness zones 7–10.

The leaves are dark green and glossy, 5–10 cm (2–4 in) long and 2–3 cm (0.79–1.18 in) broad, with a serrated margin.

The hermaphrodite flowers are white (rarely pale pink), bell-shaped, 4–6 mm (0.16–0.24 in) diameter, produced panicles of 10–30 together in autumn. They are pollinated by bees, and have a mild sweet scent.

The fruit is a red berry, 1–2 cm (0.39–0.79 in) diameter, with a rough surface. It matures in about 12 months, in autumn, at the same time as the next flowering. It is edible; the fruit is sweet when reddish, and tastes similar to afig. Seeds are often dispersed by frugivorousbirds.

The name unedo is attributed to Pliny the Elder, who allegedly claimed that "unum tantum edo", meaning "I eat only one". It is not known whether he meant that the fruit was so good he could eat only one, or whether he meant that the fruit was uninteresting so he ate only one.

Arbutus unedo is widespread in the Mediterranean region: in Portugal, Spain and southeastern France; southward in Algeria, Morocco, Libya, and Tunisia, and eastward in Italy, Slovenia, Croatia, Greece, Turkey, Cyprus, Lebanon, Syria and Israel. It is also found in western France, Albania, Bulgaria and southwestern Ireland.

Its disjunct distribution, with an isolated relict population in southwestern and northwestern Ireland, notably in Killarney and around Lough Gill in County Sligo, which is its most northerly stand in the world, is a remnant of former broader distribution during the milder climate of the Atlantic period, the warmest and moistest Blytt-Sernander period, when the climate was generally warmer than today. The red-flowered variant, named A. unedo rubra by William Aiton in 1785, was discovered growing wild in Ireland in 1835.

Arbutus unedo is quite an easy plant to cultivate, and is adaptable to many climates. Once established it is fairly drought resistant, frost resistant, shade tolerant and salt tolerant.

Lower production of fruit mass has however been reported in case of summer droughts, and frosts in flowering time was seen to decrease the numbers of fruits.

Arbutus unedo is naturally adapted to dry summer climates, and has become a very popular ornamental plant in California and the rest of the west coast of North America. It can grow easily in USDA hardiness zone 7 or warmer.

It also grows well in the cool, wet summers of western Ireland and England, and temperate regions of Europe and Asia. Pests include scales and thrips, and diseases include anthracnose, Phytophthora, root rot, and rust.

Unlike most of the Ericaceae, A. unedo grows well in basic (limy) pH soils, even though it does better in more acidic soils.

The fruit production is not very high and is highly variable on the weather, and that may be part of the reason this plant is not much cultivated. The average yield in a two years study is around 46 kg per hectare, and 180 grams per cubic meter of crown. However, very little work has so far been done in terms of genotype selection.

Arbutus unedo has been seen to form mycorrhizal relationship. Inoculation with Pisolithus tinctorius has shown to greatly improve the plants root mass, size, tolerance to drought and their nutritional status.

Propagation can be done via seed, layering, orcutting.

The seed should go under a one month cold stratification period, then soaked for 5 to 6 days in warm water to improve germination success. Seedlings are prone to damp, and should be cared in the first year.

Germination rate is low, rarely over 20%.

Layering can take up to two years, but has a good success rate, while cutting is done with a 15–20 cm (5.9–7.9 in) long mature wood, preferably with a heel in November to December. The success rate however is not very high.

CULINARY USE
Arbutus unedo's fruits have a high content of sugars (40%), and antioxidant vitamins such as vitamin C, beta-carotene, niacin, tocopherols, and organic acids that are precursors to omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids (nearly 9%).
They are edible fresh, but that is an uncommon consumption, especially because the mature fruit tends to bruise very easily, making transportation difficult.

They are used mostly for jam, marmalades, yogurt and alcoholic beverages, such as the Portuguese medronho, a type of strong brandy. Many regions of Albania prepare the traditional drink rakia from the fruits of the plant (mare or kocimare in Albanian), hence comes the name of the drink "raki kocimareje". In order to reduce the high content of methanol in the drink, the spirit is distilled twice.

The flowers are impollinated by bees, and the resulting honey is bitter tasting but still considered a delicacy.

HERBAL MEDICINE
Arbutus unedo's leaves have been employed in traditional and folk medicine in the form ofa decoction having the following properties: astringent, diuretic, urinary anti-septic, antiseptic, intoxicant, rheumatism, tonic, and more recently, in the therapy of hypertension and diabetes.

The leaves are reported to have a high concentration of flavonol antioxidants, especially quercitin, best extracted with a decoction, and together with the fruits are a source of antioxidants.
The leaves also have anti-inflammatory properties.

The wood is quite hard and well suited for a various uses such as fire wood and to make pipes. Since it doesn't usually grow straight, it is not well suited for construction or similar uses.The tree is also grown as an ornamental plant, because of the nice looking and smelling of the flowers and the fruit, the interesting presence at the same time of fruits and flowers on the plant and because it is an evergreen. It is used as a single or multi-trunked ornamental tree, and as a specimen or hedge shrub in gardens and public landscapes.

In landscape design, ecosystem restoration or permaculture based designs, A. unedo can have many purposes. While the ornamental one is the most common, this can be a valuable plant also for restoring degraded ecosystems and preventing desertification. Being a pioneer plant and growing well also in poor soils, can be used in a wide array of situations.

The flowers are a significant source of nectar and pollen for bees, while the fruits are food for the birds.Its salt tolerance, coupled with it being an evergreen, make it a good choice for wind barriers in lands close to the sea.A. unedo is fire resistant (can regrow after a fire), and being a pioneer plant can contribute to the discontinuity of fire-prone pines and eucalypts monocultures; for the same reasons it is a good candidate for reforestation in Mediterranean areas.
The dense foliage throughout the year can be a shelter for insects and small animals during the winter. Its extensive root system can help in the soil stabilization process.

2 years
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rmtm198 super
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olavn54 Beautiful article
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mila7272 Beautiful
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MegyBella Great
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soncee Nice
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Bashields Georgeus photography chingu
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AnceAne Wonderful
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carmen3521 Good1
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