The story behind the poem
Strawberry trees - 'arbutus' - are quite common in the part of Umbria
('the green heart of Italy') where we live. I adore them. It seems to
me that they have everything from a visual point of view: attractive
flowers, even more attractive fruits which occur in various colors at
the same time (a bit like fruit pastilles to look at, or baubles on a Christmas
tree), evergreen leaves, graceful trunks. At one time I took
numerous photographs of the strawberry trees I came across, hoping to
capture everything in one shot. My husband quipped that I should call
the collection 'strawberry trees I have known'.
It is true that the
fruit of strawberry trees are nothing like strawberries. They are
dominated by their fuzzy exterior and not at all juicy, even when
extremely ripe. However they are served in our local Chinese
restaurant as 'Chinese mulberries'; soaked in syrup they are quite
palatable. One can also buy honey derived from the flowers; it is so
expensive that I have never tried it.
by Damaris West
Read the poem
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