Every now and then when walking in Mount Athos the Strawberry tree appears alongside the path. Here on the left, with in the distance Simonos Petras. The Strawberry tree or Arbutus unedo is widespread in the Mediterranean region. The Latin name was given by Carl Linnaeus in 1753. This botanical image is from Flora Graeca, the book with prints from drawings by Ferdinand Bauer. Browse in volume 4 of this beautiful work, made in 1823, here. Every time I stumble upon this tree when walking the paths of Athos I am overwhelmed by the intense red colour of the bark of this tree. Here in combination with the green leaves and the white snow in the region of Nea Skiti.
The tree is a so called evergreen, with leaves even in winter.
In summer the red bark is also clearly visible. But why is it called Strawberry tree?The fruit looks like a strawberry, it is sweet when it is red and tastes similar like a fig. The red berry is used mostly for jam, marmalades, yogurt and alcoholic beverages. Many regions of Albania prepare the traditional drink rakia from the fruits of the Strawberry tree.
The fruits can apparently also look like this, or is it another species? In the background the Vatopedi monastery.
The Arbutus Unedo is undoubtedly my favorite Mount Athos tree.