Explore Plants

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 

Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

rate this answer
1 rating

Saturday - September 24, 2011

From: Jacksonville, FL
Region: Southeast
Topic: Plant Identification, Edible Plants
Title: Identification of tree with strawberry-like fruit in North Carolina
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

While visiting Boone, North Carolina we walked the Greenway in town. There were a few trees with a round red fruit similar to a strawberry. They were about the size of a penny and a dull red color dotted like a strawberry. However, the inside was a yellowish fruit. I took a small taste of it and it was sweet and delicious. I couldn't find a local person that knew the name of this fruited tree.

ANSWER:

From your description I think the most likely candidate for your plant is an introduced tree from the Mediterranean region, western Europe and Ireland, Arbutus unedo (strawberry tree).  The USDA Plants Database doesn't show a distribution map but it should be able to survive in North Carolina if it grows in Ireland.  The inside of the fruit is yellow and it is edible and reportedly sweet and delicious.  Here are more photos and information.

If that doesn't look like your tree, here is another introduced possibility:

Myrica rubra [synonym Morella rubra] (red bayberry), sometimes called Chinese strawberry tree, is a non-native from China, Korea and Japan.  Its distribution on the map in the USDA Plants Database shows it occurring only in Georgia, but it might possibly occur in North Carolina.  The fruits and seeds of Myrica rubra are edible but the wax on the fruits of some of the species in the genus Myrica has been considered carcinogenic.

Then there are a couple of native species that have similar fruits:

Euonymus americanus (American strawberry-bush) and here are more photos.

Euonymus atropurpureus (Burningbush) and here are more photos

All parts, including the fruits, of Euonymous spp. are considered poisonous if eaten in large quantities.

 

From the Image Gallery


American strawberry-bush
Euonymus americanus

American strawberry-bush
Euonymus americanus

More Plant Identification Questions

Holly-like groundcover under live oak tree.
June 21, 2012 - I have looked and looked and cannot identify a wonderful groundcover holly growing in the shade beneath my 100 year old Live Oak here in Austin. I have looked up every possible Ilex variety and am stu...
view the full question and answer

Plant identfication
October 05, 2009 - While visiting a lake near Dallas, Texas this past summer, I found a flower floating in the lake. It was small, only about an inch or so across, had three petals, was a deep magenta shade, and had th...
view the full question and answer

Lycopodium digitatum for Christmas wreaths
December 21, 2008 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, That's it! The plant "Lycopodium Digitatum" posted on your website on Dec. 20, 2008 in response to my question about the proper name of "Crow's Feet" is indeed the pla...
view the full question and answer

Question about dwarf oyster plant, Tradescantia spathacea
June 12, 2009 - I sm looking for Dwarf Oyster plant like the one described about 3-4 inches in height, color green and purple. But the nurseries here in Clearwater FL don't seem to know what I am talking about. S...
view the full question and answer

Plant identification
July 15, 2010 - I bought a double knock-out rose bush and planted it in my yard. A year later a weed-like plant started growing beside it. It has very thorny leaves, stems and stalk. Little purple flowers are grow...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.