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The Strawberry tree becomes a dense evergreen tree, slowly growing 15-30 ft. tall and as wide. Twisting trunks and branches are covered with rough brown bark. Leathery dark green leaves have toothed margins, and grow 2-3 in. long. Clusters of white to pink urn-shaped flowers are noticeable in late fall and early winter. Showy red to yellow fruit occur in winter.

Strawberry tree comes from Europe and north Africa, with the greatest occurrence in dry foothills, canyons and slopes around the Mediterranean Sea. It is a tough and durable species, tolerant of heat, cold and reduced amounts of summer moisture. It grows in both slightly acid to slightly alkaline soils, but always does best with good drainage. These adaptations enable the strawberry tree to grow extremely well throughout the Inland Empire in a variety of landscape situations.

This species of Strawberry tree is perhaps one of the best large shrubs or small trees for our inland gardens. It grows slowly, but provides garden value for many years. Young plants need time to grow and pruning is needed to develop good shape and branching character. Large specimens can be seen in older gardens in the Inland Empire where they are highly valued for their interesting form, trunk and bark characteristics. It is commonly used as a low-branching specimen plant in residential and commercial courtyards, in raised planters and around lawns. A compact form, Arbutus undo 'Compacta' is also very popular and is described here.

Water Needs

The Strawberry tree is highly adapted to climates with moist winters and dry summers. As a result, our normal winter rains are often sufficient to provide enough moisture from late November through March; afterwards, established plants need only periodic deep waterings during the summer and fall. Young plants will grow faster and larger with regular moisture during the winter to spring growing season if the winter rains are sparse.

The chart shown below provides a baseline guide to the monthly irrigation schedule and volume of supplemental water needed to maintain healthy growth throughout the average year. It should be noted there are several months indicated by an asterisk (*) when winter rains can provide sufficient moisture and irrigation is not needed.

Irrigation Schedule and Graph

Low Water Use Plants

Irrigation Schedule 2

  Jan* Feb* Mar* Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov* Dec*
Runs per Month 0x to 2x 0x to 2x 0x to 2x 1x to 2x 1x to 2x 1x to 2x 1x to 2x 1x to 2x 1x to 2x 1x to 2x 0x to 2x 0x to 2x
Inches per Run 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1"
Inches per Month 0" to 2" 0" to 2" 0" to 2" 1" to 2" 1" to 2" 1" to 2" 1" to 2" 1" to 2" 1" to 2" 1" to 2" 0" to 2" 0" to 2"

Range of supplemental summer water: 7"-14"
Range of supplemental winter water: 0"-10"

  Jan* Feb* Mar* Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov* Dec*
For more information on how to use this Irrigation Schedule and Graph, follow this link.

For information how to calculate your irrigation system’s schedule and precipitation rate, please follow this link.

Plant Properties

Plant Type: Tree
Foliage Character: Evergreen
Habit: Upright, Low-branching, Dense
Growth Rate: Slow
Height: 15 ft. - 30 ft.
Width: 15 ft. - 30 ft.
Water Needs: Low 2
Foliage Color: Dark green
Flower Color: Pink, White
Flower Season: Winter, Fall
Soil Adaptations: Well-draining soil, Clay, Alkaline soil, Acidic soil
Exposure Adaptations: Heat, Frost, All day sun, Partial sun
Function: Wildlife value, Specimen, Slopes, Shade Tree, Screening, Residential spaces, Hummingbird plant, Flowering accent plant, Courtyard and patio tree


Plant in fall or spring. Prune late fall into winter. Develops fruit that will drop and may stain patios, sidewalks, and streets. Can be grown as a multi-trunk or single trunk tree. This tough plant has been long grown in Southern California but is not often planted these days. Arbutus 'Marina' is usually planted instead, because this hybrid has many of the same nice qualities, but grows faster and has dramatic red bark. There is something to be said for slow and steady though, and this plant should still be considered for use in Southern California landscapes (D,S).



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