In search of the Killarney strawberry tree

South west Ireland is remarkable for lots of reasons but from a botanical point of view the flora is unlike other parts of the British Isles and the jewel in the crown is Arbutus unedo, the Killarney strawberry tree. Native to the Atlantic coasts of Portugal, NW France and SW Ireland it is now a moderately common garden plant known for its attractive bark, evergreen leaves, small, honey-scented pink and white flowers in autumn and the red fruits that give the tree its name. Though superficially resembling strawberries the fruits are not very tasty and the name ‘unedo’ means ‘you eat one’ in reference to how many you are likely to munch on. It was reportedly very common in the Killarney area but was extensively cut down for burning and charcoal production in the last two centuries. So, although my Kerry trip was not primarily to see the tree in the wild and it was a quick tour, I was hoping to see the fabled Killarney strawberry tree.

Was it growing near Kells Bay? I didn't see it there!

Was it growing near Kells Bay? I didn’t see it there!

Was it growing near O'Carrol's cove? I didn't see it there!

Was it growing near O’Carroll’s cove? I didn’t see it there!

Was it growing near Ladies' View? I didn't see it there!

Was it growing near Ladies’ View? I didn’t see it there!

Was it growing at Muckross House? Maybe but I didn't see it just here!

Was it growing at Muckross House? Maybe but I didn’t see it just here!

or here...

or here…

or here...

or here…

or here...

or here…

or here...

or here…

or anywhere on the rock garden...

or anywhere on the rock garden…

I was a day too late….

... at last - I found one!

… at last – I found one!

And there were more! Planted in the parterre in the walled garden

And there were more! Planted in the parterre in the walled garden

 

, , ,

10 Comments on “In search of the Killarney strawberry tree”

  1. TheDigger
    March 18, 2015 at 8:54 am #

    Wow, you really live in a beautiful part of the world. Cambridgeshire looks pretty boring in comparison. Are you going to go back when the tree has fruit to see if they really taste as bad as they say?

    I’ve nominated you for an award btw- https://diggingforsanity.wordpress.com/2015/03/18/look-at-my-bulging-trophy-cabinet/ πŸ™‚

    • thebikinggardener
      March 18, 2015 at 5:22 pm #

      Thank you for your comment and nomination. I know that Cambridgeshire will seem a bit flat when I go back but it has its charms too πŸ™‚ I am not sure I will go back to Killarney to hunt for arbutus fruits but there are lots of other places to have a taste πŸ™‚

      • TheDigger
        March 18, 2015 at 5:28 pm #

        When you come back? Are you from round ere then? I actually live in the hilly part of Cambridgeshire. When I tell people they don’t believe it exists.

      • thebikinggardener
        March 18, 2015 at 5:33 pm #

        Yes I am from round there! Thorney, which is almost on a hill! Just east of Peterborough

      • TheDigger
        March 18, 2015 at 5:42 pm #

        I know Thorney! I grew up in Peterborough but I live out in the countryside now near the Northants border. On an actual hill. πŸ˜‰

      • thebikinggardener
        March 18, 2015 at 5:44 pm #

        Well you have to go downhill to whittlesey so Thorney must be on a bit of a hill but yes, Northants has proper hills πŸ™‚ its a small world!

      • thebikinggardener
        March 18, 2015 at 5:45 pm #

        Before I came out here to do this job I was Editor of Garden Answers so worked for EMAP (now Bauer).

      • TheDigger
        March 18, 2015 at 5:48 pm #

        Ha, I used to live around the corner from the old EMAP building. Small world!

  2. joy
    March 18, 2015 at 10:29 am #

    glad you found the tree very interesting and lovely photos

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Sweetgum and Pines

gardening in the North Carolina piedmont

Ravenscourt Gardens

Learning life's lessons in the garden!

RMW: the blog

Roslyn's photography, art, cats, exploring, writing, life

IGPS Blog

The Irish Garden Plant Society - Lovers of Irish plants and gardens

AltroVerde

un altro blog sul giardinaggio...

vegetablurb

four decades of organic vegetable gardening and barely a clue

The Long Garden Path

A walk round the Estate!

The Tropical Flowering Zone

Photographic Journals from the Tropics

Flowery Prose

Growing words about writing, gardening, and outdoors pursuits in Alberta, Canada.

ontheedgegardening

Gardening on the edge of a cliff

Uprooted Magnolia

I am a freelance Photographer born and raised in the Southeast. I have uprooted my life in Macon Georgia for a new life as an unlikely cowgirl in love with a handsome cowboy in Wyoming. I hope you enjoy my photo journal on life, love, and the spirit of Wyoming.

Interesting Literature

A Library of Literary Interestingness

Garden Variety

A Gardening, Outdoor Lifestyle and Organic Food & Drink Blog

For the Love of Iris

Articles, Tips and Notes from Schreiner's Iris Gardens

One Bean Row

Words and pictures from an Irish garden by Jane Powers

Plant Heritage

The world's leading garden plant conservation charity

HERITAGE IRISES

An English experience of gardening in Ireland - and back in the UK

%d bloggers like this: