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Strawberry Tree Fruit

Wild Resources

The strawberry tree (Arbutus unedo L.) is a shrub or small tree, fruit-bearing and ornamental, of the Ericaceae family. It is native to the Mediterranean region and Western Europe and can be found both in the north and west of France and in Ireland. In Portugal, its fruit is called medronho and it grows all over the country, but mainly in the mountains of Caldeirão and Monchique.

It can grow to eight to ten meters, with a thick and rounded crown, especially at an early stage of development.

The fruit is globose, granular, warty and edible, yellowish in colour and finally reddish when ripe.


Flowering occurs from October to January, when the previous year’s fruits ripen and fall. It tolerates conditions of water stress and degraded soils. Due to its abundant flowering, the strawberry tree is a species of interest from the apicultural point of view.


Anyone interested in exploiting this resource should define the product to be used, which may be one or more of the following:

  • Fresh fruit;

  • Dehydrated fruit;

  • Fruit for the production of aguardente de medronho (strawberry tree fruit brandy);

  • Branches for floral arrangements.


The best-known product is undoubtedly the strawberry tree fruit brandy (aguardente de medronho), obtained by alcoholic fermentation and distillation of the fruits or their must. Other products include fresh strawberry tree fruit, liqueur, vinegar, jam, fruits in syrup, frozen fruits and dried fruits.

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