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Strawberry tree Arbutus unedo

The fruit of Arbutus unedo (Strawberry tree) is edible...just! The second part of its scientific name, 'unedo' is thought to come from the latin 'unum edo' or 'I eat one' - as in, you wouldn't particularly want a second!

The strawberry tree has a bizarrely scattered habitat. Mainly distributed around the warm climes of Mediterranean, it can also be found in the north of France and the west coast of Ireland and is still relatively common by Lake Killarney. However it rarely grows wild or produces fruit outside of the warmer Mediterranean regions. 
 
Strawberry tree fruits mainly serve as food for birds but in some countries they are used to make jam and liqueurs, such as the Portuguese medronho, a kind of strong brandy.
 
The wood burns well as charcoal and the wholesale felling of the tree for this purpose has led to its patchy distribution today.
 
In the UK, where it is planted for its ornamental value, it is often too cold for the fruits to ripen.

 

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