Winter flowering Strawberry Tree

There aren’t a large number of trees that flower in winter in temperate climates, but one we can’t imagine gardening without is Arbutus unedo ‘Compacta’. This amazing Mediterranean native has thrived for us since the late 1980s.

Arbutus is a member of the  Ericaceae family, which is why the flower so closely resemble those of its cousin, Pieris.

The clusters of red fruit that ripen in late winter after months of flowering resembles miniature strawberries, hence the common name of strawberry tree. The shaggy cinnamon bark is also another striking ornamental feature. Our 30 year old specimen has reached 12′ tall x 12′ wide. Hardiness is Zone 7b and warmer.

Arbutus unedo ‘Compacta’
Arbutus unedo ‘Compacta’
Arbutus unedo ‘Compacta’ bark

3 thoughts on “Winter flowering Strawberry Tree”

  1. Hi jobs!,
    I love arbutus unedo but need some help with its culture.
    While it has survived well, and flowered well, the fruit is usually wiped out before it gets a chance, succumbing to cold snaps, freezing rain, and such. The current specimen I have now is potted in an enclosed patio right next to the house, here in Chapel Hill, NC 27516. Flowering well, but browning flowers and fruits. Otherwise quite healthy. I grew it out in the ground/open for many years, with great flowering and bark, very little fruit in that situation as well. Finally, it succumbed to full sun. How can I help it grow well?

    1. Great question! With out cold wet winters, I don’t see that we’ll ever be able to get the amazing fruit set that we see in the wild, or in warmer winter climates. The best we can do is enjoy the form, the flowers, and the occasional fruit that set when we have a mild winter.

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