Arbutus

Family

Ericaceae

A group of evergreen trees and shrubs, of which three species are worth cultivating and hardy in the British Isles. They have alternate, leathery leaves, and bear their flowers in terminal panicles; corolla pitcher-shaped, white or pink; calyx five-lobed, persisting through the fruiting stage; stamens ten. The fruit is an edible but not very palatable drupe, roundish, orange-red, and very ornamental when ripe, enclosing numerous seeds.

The arbutuses are exceptionally attractive evergreens in their foliage, which is healthy dark green, and abundant, also ornamental in flower and fruit. A. rnedo, A. andrachne, and A. × andrachnoides all thrive on limy soils, and may thus be included among the few ericaceous plants that can be grown where lime is present. But all succeed well in peaty or loamy soil. Wherever possible all the species should be raised from seed, but the named varieties have to be grafted on seedlings of A. unedo. They transplant rather badly, and are best grown in pots until finally planted out, which should be done as soon as possible.

Species articles