Curiosities of our flora: Strawberry Tree

A fruit unknown to most outside the mediterranean climate. With it’s small, pointy, squishy, red fruits, called Medronho in Portuguese, it is fully ripened around this time of year and grows around us in plenty.

The taste has various peculiar descriptions according to our volunteers; like a fig, a bland peach, sweet gravel, straw or raspberry-like. Sometimes sweet and fresh, sometimes acidic, sometimes on the brink to ferment, with an interesting tough raspberry-like texture.

This evergreen tree certainly causes great confusion amongst its definition, but one thing is certain: it is a great curiosity and a quite unique addition to our müsli, jam, kombucha, ice cream and marmalade. It is also used for producing the traditional country wine of Portugal with the same name. The fruit can be utilised in a variety of ways from sweet or savory to raw or cooked.

Nevertheless, the taste and richness in Vitamin C is not its only secret. It has also been used in folk medicine as an antiseptic and astringent, and for rheumatic and tonic purposes. Its fruits and leaves are also used in the pharmaceutical industry. Not only the lychee-like fruit is useful to us, the wood of the tree can also be used for making utensils, bowls, pipes and spoons etc. When blossoming with its aesthetical white flowers, the strawberry tree is highly attractive to our bee-friends for bitter honey production. The fruit also serves as food for birds all year around and was also used to serve as a powerful symbol in funeral rites and in politics. 

Our red-fruited treasure tree is a common find in Portuguese landscapes and is through its perishable nature not often found in markets and not known to most people outside of the Mediterranean climate, although it is also native to western Europe, France, Ireland. For us it is a great red treasure amongst the green.

By Isabella


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