Saturday, April 26, 2014

Strawberry trees

In La Gomera's mountainous north and especially around the village of La Rosas there are numerous specimens of the relatively rare strawberry tree (Arbutus Canariensis) which is more like a large bush. Wikipedia explains about the tree with its beautiful reddish-brown smoth bark:
''Arbutus canariensis, known in Spanish as madroño canario, is a species of shrub or tree in the Ericaceae family. It is endemic to the Canary Islands, specifically Tenerife, La Gomera, Gran Canaria, El Hierro, and La Palma. It is threatened by habitat loss.''
A close relative is the Irish strawberry tree which has always been one of my favourite plants. Again I quote Wikipedia:
''Arbutus unedo (strawberry tree, occasionally cane apple) is an evergreen shrub or small tree in the family Ericaceae, native to the Mediterranean region and western Europe north to western France and Ireland. Due to its presence in southwest and northwest Ireland, it is known as either "Irish strawberry tree" or sometimes "Killarney strawberry tree".''

The fruit, though similar in shape, are not really comparable in taste to the strawberries that grow low in fields and are sold in the shops, but are rich in vitamins as well. They take a very long time to mature and can then be used to make jam. The strawberry tree is related to the heather tree, but prefers limy soil.
Unusually large but short trunk of a strawberry tree in the garden of the visitor's centre
in La Rosas showing the typical smooth reddish bark.

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