All types have ornamental bark, clusters of little urn-shaped flowers, decorative (and edible) fruit, and handsome foliage. Provide good drainage, especially if plant receives regular water. Best in low-humidity, low-rainfall areas such as West Texas.
- Native to southern Europe, Ireland.
- Slow to moderate growth to 835 feet tall and wide; tends to be a small shrub in Southeast.
- Trunk and branches have red-brown, shredding bark, become twisted and gnarled in age.
- Dark green, red-stemmed leaves 23 inches long.
- Small, white or greenish white flowers; red-and-yellow, 34 inches fruit resembles strawberries but is mealy and bland tasting.
- Clusters of flowers and fruit often appear simultaneously in fall and winter.
- Selections include 'Elfin King', a dwarf form (not over 5 feet tall at 10 years old) that flowers and fruits nearly continuously; 'Compacta', seldom exceeding 10 feet.; and 'Oktoberfest', a 6- to 8 feet form with deep pink flowers.
- Give species and selections sun or part shade.
arbutus xalapensis(Arbutus texana)
- Native to Texas, New Mexico, Mexico to Guatemala.
- Striking multitrunked, small tree to 2030 feet tall and wide, with handsome, deep green leaves, clusters of small white or pale pink flowers in spring, raspberrylike fruit in fall.
- Extremely showy bark changes in color through the year, from cream (when young) to pink and then to brown before it peels, revealing new bark beneath.
- Requires careful attention to get established.
- Provide light shade; water consistently for several years but never allow soil to become waterlogged.
- Grows well in chalky soil.