Compact Strawberry Tree: Eye Catching Season Interest

Compact Strawberry Tree: Eye Catching Season Interest

Compact Strawberry Tree

Photo Compliments Of Wendy Cutler

Arbutus unedo “Compacta” is more commonly referred to as the compact strawberry tree; it is an exceptional four-season evergreen shrub with outstanding flowers, tasty fruit, beautiful leaves, and interesting cinnamon-colored bark.

The branching is dense and the growth rate is slow. Bloom period is from October to December; the flowers are small, whitish-pink, and urn-shaped appearing at the tips of branches. Fruits are about ¾ inches across, knobby, and gradually ripen to orange-red. The fruit is typically in color when the shrub is in full flower. The dark green glossy foliage is beautiful, as is the attractive, cinnamon-colored bark. This shrub or small tree will thrive in a protected site that ensures fruit every year. You will need to prune shrubs to accentuate the sculptural qualities of the branching and bark.

The surfaces of the leaves have a slight sheen and the leaf margins are lightly serrated. The handsome reddish twigs and leaf petioles really pop, as does the warm brown, slightly shaggy bark.

How To Make Your Compact Strawberry Tree Thrive

The strawberry tree tolerates a wide variety of soil conditions including sand and clay; soil should be well-drained. The strawberry tree will thrive in full sun to open shade and is drought tolerant once established. Cold weather may damage foliage and flowers, your plant will usually recover in the spring; plant in protected locations for more reliable fruit production.

General Compact Strawberry Tree Information

Pests & Diseases

There are no real serious insect or disease problems. Flowers and fruit can be damaged in cold winter conditions so a protected location is preferred. If you have a problem it will likely be aphids or fungal leaf spot.


Seeds can be sown on the surface of good seed compost; do this when the seeds are ripe in late autumn. You should then put them into a cold frame. You can also take semi-ripe cuttings in late summer and put them in a propagator.

Garden Uses

The strawberry tree can be used as either a formal or informal hedging, or as a specimen shrub that requires very little maintenance. The fruit can be used to make jams and jellies or you can leave on the bush to support your bird population. It is possible to grow this as tree or shrub in a container.

Quick Facts

  • Family: Ericaceae
  • Plant Type: Upright shrub or small tree
  • Foliage Type: Broad leaf evergreen
  • Growth Rate: Moderate
  • Growth Habit: Round
  • Height: 10 to 15 feet
  • Width: 10 to 15 feet
  • Hardiness Zones: Zones 7 to 9
  • Flower Color: White
  • Blooms: Fall to late winter
  • Light Exposure: Full sun or light or open shade
  • Water Requirements: Drought tolerant when established
  • Landscape Uses: Border, firescaping, privacy screen
  • Seasonal Interest: Autumn flowers & fruit; year-round attractive foliage & bark
  • Special features: Attracts hummingbirds, bees, and birds


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  1. Ahh I love this tree! I always thought it was such a shame that they’re not real strawberries 🙂
    Aimee recently posted..Workin’ 9 to 5 (and how Abby changed careers)My Profile

  2. The flowers look a lot like blueberry flowers. I wonder if the fruit taste like strawberries, or is it their color that gives the plant its common name?

  3. What an interesting shrub – it seems to have quite a few attractive merits! And the fruit is edible, which is wonderful! Even though I can’t grow some of these plants here in chilly northwestern Canada, I really enjoy reading about them! 🙂

  4. What beautiful flowers and fruit! I don’t think I’ve ever seen one of these before. (BTW, the photographer’s given name is Valter, not Vater.)

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