This is a very slow growing evergreen tree that most people only see a small garden shrub, but given 50 years or so, will get more than 6 metres high. Attractive at all stages of growth with the glossy green leaves contrasting with the reddish stems and bark. The bright red strawberry-like fruits take a year to mature, and ripen at the same time as the next seasons flowers appear. Flowers are produced in small bunches, are white and look like little bells. At fruiting time, every passer-by stops and asks 3 questions. The first is "What is it called"? Second question is, "Can you eat the fruit"? Finally, "What do they taste like"? To satisfy the curious, The plant is Arbutus or Strawberry tree, Yes you can eat them, and they taste like soggy cardboard with added sand.
This plant is slow growing and usually fails to re-sprout from old wood so there is not much required in the pruning department. If you have a mature tree overhanging any walkway, there is the daily job of sweeping the fallen fruit clear before they get stood on. This activity will last about a month during the flowering/fruiting season. If ignored, the path will soon become covered with strawberry jam and the mess will travel everywhere. The horrid blower is the best tool to use while the berries are whole as they will simply roll along with the wind whereas a brush squashes them. any fruit that fall on the flowerbeds can be left where they lie without any worry.
Fruit is edible but not desireable.
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