Gerês

Gerês

Monday, 23 November 2015

Arbutus unedo

Family: ERICACEAE

 The strawberry tree has this name in the English language due to lack of originality. In Portugal we call it Medronheiro; in Spain Madronheiro, in France Arbúsier. The fruits are not the regular strawberries you see in the market. They are also edible, red and yellow. They have a spherical shape and rough texture, almost resembling a litchi. The fruits may contain an alcoholic beverage, since their sugars start fermenting on the tree, when it's ripe. 

 This tree actually belongs to the heather family, as you might tell by the bell-shaped flowers. It's a remnant of the Laurissilva, the old kind of Forest that existed in Europe before the Glacial Ages.
 There's many known insect associations with these tree, namely some butterflies that have larvae eating the leaves of this tree.

 The Portuguese people make a very strong fruit brandy called "àguardente de Medronho": The Medronho firewater.

The white bell-shaped flowers of Arbutus unedo

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