- Author: Leslie Stevens
- Editor: Noni Todd
By Leslie Stevens UCCE Master Gardener
Planting area: Sunset zones 7 - 24; USDA Hardiness Zones 8 – 11
Size: Moderate growth to 8 – 35 feet tall and wide
Bloom season: Fall and winter
Exposure: Full sun to partial shade
Pruning Needs: Minimal pruning is needed except to maintain a certain height or shape, or to remove damaged branches.
Water needs: This tree requires moderate water the first year or two. Once established, it is fairly drought tolerant.
Snapshot: When searching for the perfect landscape tree, Strawberry Madrone often tops the list. This attractive evergreen member of the Ericaceae family is native to Southern Europe, making it well suited to the Central Coast's Mediterranean climate.
Handsome dark green, oblong-shaped leaves fill the tree's rounded canopy year-round. Autumn ushers in a special treat when small urn-shaped white or pink blooms and small yellow-to-red fruits decorate the tree. The fruits resemble small strawberries and are edible, but are considered rather mealy tasting to many people.
Bees, birds and butterflies, however, seem to find the tree's offerings irresistible. Hummingbirds in particular are regular visitors during the flowering and fruiting season.
In addition to their good looks, strawberry trees tolerate a range of growing conditions-- wind, light frosts, salt and a variety of soils, although they perform best in slightly acidic soils.
On the downside, Arbutus is susceptible to scale, thrips, Anthracnose, Phytophthora, root rot and rust.
Strawberry tree fruits have been used for making jams, yogurt and alcoholic beverages. Its leaves also are used in some herbal medicines.