San Joaquin Plants: Strawberry Tree

By Adam Temple

The Strawberry Tree (Arbutus Unedos - L.) isn't well known with non-earthy people. It thrives only in Southern locations, like the Central Valley. There is a few of these along my walking path in Clovis. It's a small tree that has a round edible fruit, but not what you might consider a "strawberry tree" to be. The fruit is round, has a soft spiked texture, and has a gooey middle when ripe.

But let's not overlook the most important detail! The tree is sacred to Hermes. Myth has it that he was nursed beneath a strawberry tree, and it stood in his sactuary at Tanagra.

To me they taste very nice, but not strawberry-like. The skin is a little gritty, but dissolves easily enough when you chew the whole thing. That's the way to eat it.

They grow really well in the San Joaquin Valley, as shown on the PlantNet map. The yellow marks are where people have reported and pictured the Strawberry Tree.

Map showing Strawberry Tree locations as recorded on PlantNet

This tree is great for permaculture because it attracts birds. They eat the fruit, but there will be plenty left for you too. If you live in the Fresno/Clovis area, keeps your eyes open. These are hiding all around us. 

References
https://hort.ifas.ufl.edu/database/documents/pdf/tree_fact_sheets/arbunea.pdf
https://identify.plantnet.org/the-plant-list/species/Arbutus%20unedo%20L./data
https://pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Arbutus+unedo