Western strawberry tree

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Western strawberry tree
Western strawberry tree (Arbutus unedo)

Western strawberry tree ( Arbutus unedo )

Order : Heather-like (Ericales)
Family : Heather family (Ericaceae)
Subfamily : Arbutoideae
Genre : Strawberry trees ( arbutus )
Type : Western strawberry tree
Scientific name
Arbutus unedo
Western strawberry tree in the Gallura region , Sardinia
Flowers and fruits in different degrees of ripeness
Fruits of the western strawberry tree ( Arbutus unedo )

The Western Strawberry Tree ( Arbutus unedo ) is a plant from the genus of strawberry trees ( Arbutus ) in the family Ericaceae (Ericaceae). Ancient names are sea ​​cherry or hail apple .


The western strawberry tree is an evergreen shrub or tree with a stature height of 3 to 5, rarely up to 10 meters. The bark is initially dark red, later gray-brown and cracked. The branches are densely leafed.

The alternate, simple, bare and leathery leaves are pointed and obovate, lanceolate to lanceolate, are about 11 centimeters long and 4 centimeters wide and have a stalk about 1 centimeter long. They are shiny dark green on top and sawn on the edge.

The flowering period falls from October to December. Arbutus unedo is protogynous , i.e. female. The five-fold, short-stalked and hermaphrodite, fragrant, small flowers with a double flower envelope are white to light pink and urn-shaped, they are in small, often pendulous, terminal, bare, multi-to multi-flowered panicles . The calyx is very small and the overgrown crown with small protruding lobes is up to 7–9 millimeters long. There is an upper, bare and multi-chambered pistil with a slightly protruding stylus and 10 short stamens and a discus .

The approximately 2 to 3 centimeters in diameter, round, multi-seeded fruits, berries with remains of a stylus at the tip, of the winter bloomer ripen so slowly that red fruits and flowers hang on the tree at the same time. They have a warty surface, are initially green, turn orange to red as they ripen and then resemble strawberries ; hence the German name of the plant comes from. Inside, the fruits are yellow-orange and have a fleshy to floury consistency. The fruits are edible and have a slightly sweet aroma. The seeds are up to 3 millimeters in size.

The number of chromosomes is 2n = 26.


Distribution area

The western strawberry tree is a typical plant of the Mediterranean region . It occurs in evergreen forests in the region around the Mediterranean Sea, but also on the Atlantic coast as far as Ireland . It is also often found on roadsides. Because of its resistance to air pollution, it is also being experimentally planted in cities.

Taxonomy and Etymology

The western strawberry tree was first published in 1753 by Carl von Linné in Species Plantarum . The Latin epithet unédo (and not únedo) was given by Carl von Linné. Arbutus unedo thus refers to the strawberry tree and its fruit . Vorlinneisch this species was known as Arbutus folio serrato or Unedo Plinii vulgo . The naive interpretation of unum tantum edo (= I only eat one) put forward by Pliny the Elder can still be found in Wittstein's 1852.

Arbutus in poetry

The Roman poet Virgil describes in the Aeneid , the Roman national epic that was written around 19 BC. Ch. How Pallas , the fallen comrade of Aeneas in the fight against the Rutulians , is laid out on a bed "woven from oak shoots and arbutus twigs ":

Without delay the soft-plaited stretcher is now
woven for him from oak shoots and arbutus branches,
then the raised bed is planted with leafy shade.

The Roman poet Ovid mentions the strawberry tree in his description of the "Golden Age", contained in the Metamorphoses (approx. 8 AD):

... and
never hurt by the cutting ploughshare , everything gave itself up on the blessed earth,
and satisfied with food that had grown
casually ,
they would read
arbutus fruit , strawberries on a sunny
slope or blackberries and red cornelles on the rough smell and
acorns falling from the branchy tree of Iupiter .

The Italian poet Giovanni Pascoli mentions the Arbutus in two works. In the Ode Al Corbezzolo ( Italian “Dem Arbutus” (1906)) and in the Ode Inno a Roma ( Italian “Hymne to Rome” (1911)).

Heraldry and symbolism

In heraldry , the strawberry tree is depicted in the coat of arms of the Spanish capital, Madrid .

The coat of arms of the province of Ancona (Italy) shows a branch of the strawberry tree which is held by an angled arm.

The strawberry tree with its green leaves, white flowers and red fruits is one of the national symbols of Italy because it depicts the national colors.


The hard wood of the western strawberry tree is only used locally. However, it is an excellent fuel with a high calorific value .

The somewhat tasteless but sweet fruits are suitable for raw consumption, but also for cooking jams and marmalades. In Portugal , the fruits are distilled into a clear schnapps called Medronho, which is typical of the region . In Sardinia a blossom honey is known as "Amaro di Corbezzolo".


  • Marilena Idžojtić: Dendrology. Academic Press, 2018, ISBN 978-0-444-64175-5 , p. 76.
  • Dankwart Seidel: Flowers on the Mediterranean. Determine accurately with the 3-check . BLV, Munich 2002, ISBN 3-405-16294-7 .
  • Peter Schönfelder, Ingrid Schönfelder: What is in bloom in the Mediterranean? 750 species (=  Kosmos nature guide ). 4th edition. Franckh-Kosmos, Stuttgart 2005, ISBN 3-440-10211-4 .

Web links

Commons : Western Strawberry Tree ( Arbutus unedo )  - Album with pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Arbutus unedo at Tropicos.org. In: IPCN Chromosome Reports . Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis.
  2. Carl von Linné: Species Plantarum. Volume 1, Lars Salvius, Stockholm 1753, p. 395, digitizedhttp: //vorlage_digitalisat.test/1%3Dhttp%3A%2F%2Fwww.biodiversitylibrary.org%2Fopenurl%3Fpid%3Dtitle%3A669%26volume%3D1%26issue%3D%26spage%3D395%26date%3D1753~GB%3D~ IA% 3D ~ MDZ% 3D% 0A ~ SZ% 3D ~ double-sided% 3D ~ LT% 3D ~ PUR% 3D .
  3. Helmut Genaust: Etymological dictionary of botanical plant names. 3rd, completely revised and expanded edition, Nikol, Hamburg 2005, ISBN 3-937872-16-7 (reprint from 1996).
  4. Aeneid XI, 65
  5. Metamorphoses I, 89–112
  6. Hymn to Rome on it.wikisource.org.
  7. ^ Coat of arms of the province of Ancona ( Memento from September 12, 2016 in the Internet Archive ).
  8. The strawberry tree (Arbutus unedo). Retrieved December 21, 2016 .
  9. Jeanne Dericks-Tan, Gabriele Vollbrecht: On the trail of wild fruits in Europe. ASbadi, Alzenau 2009, ISBN 978-3-00-021129-4 , p. 77.
  10. Amaro di Corbezzolo on mieliditalia.it.