Arbutus unedo. STRAWBERRY TREE. Mediterranean, Ireland
Arbutus × ‘Marina’. A hybrid of unknown parentage distributed by Saratoga Horticultural Research Foundation
ERICACEAE (Heath family)

A pleasant, small shrubby tree on which both red and yellow edible strawberries hang at the same time in fall. Three 12-foot trees are in the circle at Galvez and Escondido malls, and many more are along the east wall of Sweet Hall. The cycle path at the east end of Esplanada Way is lined with strawberry trees clipped as a hedge. The overripe berries that follow the strings of rose-colored bells have the best flavor when they are turning dark crimson. Of course there are numerous small seeds; the only reasonable way to cope is to swallow fast.

The tree was well known in Southern Europe from ancient times for its edible fruit; indeed Lucretius (d. 168 bc), telling the way things were in the beginning, states that girls could be bought with arbutus berries. “And Venus joined the bodies of lovers in the woods; a girl shared a man’s appetite, or perhaps succumbed to his insistence, or took a bribe: acorns, arbutus berries, or choice pears.” (De Rerum Natura, Book V, lines 962–966). The names arbutus and unedo were both used by the Romans. Madroño, the Spanish name of A. unedo, was also applied to California’s A. menziesii.

A. × ‘Marina’ (a hybrid of unknown parentage distributed by Saratoga Horticultural Research Foundation) strongly resembles A. unedo but has larger leaves and rosy pink flowers. A fine specimen is in the raised planter on the right of the western entrance to Meyer Library and another is on Lomita Drive at the entrance to the parking lot adjacent to Harmony House. Other specimens are on Lomita Mall east of the Gordon and Betty Moore Materials Research Building and one is to the left of the Santa Teresa Street entrance to the Humanities Center. There are three great ones west of the Center for Educational Research (CERAS).

Illustration: McMinn, Howard E. and Evelyn Maino. 1951. An illustrated manual of Pacific coast trees; with lists of trees recommended for various uses on the Pacific coast by H. W. Shepherd. 2d ed. Berkeley, Calif.: University of California Press.

Illustrations: gallery

Additions/Revisions: A. × ‘Marina’ also has peeling bark revealing smooth, reddish new bark similar to A. menziesii. The specimen on Lomita Dr. in front of Harmony House near entrance to Santa Teresa lot is especially beautiful.

Name derivation, genus | species

Related material: Plant Culture Data Sheet for A. × ‘Marina’ from Saratoga Horticultural Research Foundation | Arbutus unedo, A. ‘Marina’ a.k.a. (Arbutus glandulosa ‘Marina’): Canopy Trees for Palo Alto Tree Library


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