Eastern strawberry tree
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Eastern strawberry tree is an evergreen shrub belongs to the family Ericaceae, It can reach a height of about 12 meters. The smooth bark is exfoliating during the summer, leaving a layer with a pistachio green color, which changes gradually to a beautiful orange brown. The leaves are alternate, elliptical, and glabrous; margin is entire or delicately dentate.
The flower is white or yellowish green, calyx is short, green, and divided into lobes. The corolla is white to beige, and has the shape of a swollen jar.
The flower secretes a dilute nectar, and flies and bees come to enjoy it and pollinate the flowers, the flowers bloom in Spring (March and April). Fruits ripen in Autumn, it has the shape of a red sphere with a diameter of 1 cm, when ripen its red color turns almost black.
Ecology: The tree grows in anaerobic soils, poor aeration. It apparently succeeds there due to mycorrhiza (feeding with the help of symbiotic root fungi). This may be the reason why it is difficult to cultivate this plant in ornamental gardens, it grows on rocky slopes on limestone, serpentine and igneous rocks in areas that are very dry in Summer.
Uses: Plants can be grown as a hedge, they are tolerant of some trimming, and also it is a source for wood.
Distributions: This tree is native to the Mediterranean region, the Middle East, and southwestern Asia.
In Palestine it grows in the Mediterranean Maqui and woodlands. It is distributed in central highland and Jerusalem mountains.
Other names: Greek Strawberry-tree, Arbutus, Eastern Strawberry Tree.
IUCN red list status: least concern.
Local status: least concern.