Arbutus unedo

Strawberry tree                                                                                                Κουμαριά

Ericaceae - heather family                                                                                  Dicot.


The strawberry tree, Arbutus unedo, is an important plant of the macchia, Mediterranean scrub. It is often a straggly bush, intertwining with other plants but occasionally it forms a small spreading tree. The bright green, shiny, evergreen leaves are elliptical with serrated edges. New leaves and leaf stalks are red tinged, but mature branches and the trunk are silvery grey, differentiating the tree from the closely related Arbutus andrachne, which has red bark.

The tree has creamy-white flowers in autumn, which provide pollen for bees in late season and create honey with a characteristic flavour. The flowers are followed by round fruits, which are green at first, then yellow, orange and finally bright red; they resemble strawberries in appearance and are used in folk medicine, to make jams and to flavour drinks, but eaten raw they are insipid and unedo means eat only once.

Arbutus unedo is widespread along the Mediterranean but also occurs along the western, Atlantic, coast of Europe as far North as France and even grows wild in Ireland.

Arbutus liqueur

Λικέρ κούμαρο

1 kg fresh arbutus unedo fruits, "strawberries"

500gm sugar

500ml tsipouro (without anise)

Large glass jar with lid.

Wash fruit and put into jar.

Cover fruits with sugar.

Leave for 25 days in sun, turn every 2-3 days, release lid to allow fermentation gasses to escape.

Add alcohol, leave for another 20 days, by which time it should be well coloured.

Strain into bottles.

An ideal, warming Christmas treat.

Castanea sativa
Sweet chestnutCastanea_sativa.html
Arbutus andrachne
Greek strawberry treeArbutus_andrachne.html