Species from the genus Arbutus can be found throughout the southern Mediterranean and North America (1). A. andrachne is closely related to A. unedo. It may often be confused with the hybrid it produces with A. unedo; A. andrachnoides (2). When found as a shrub it grows to a maximum of four meters, however in the right conditions it can grow to a tree exceeding 12 m in height (2). Its brown bark eventually peels off and leaves behind a perfectly smooth bark that varies in colour. The colour of the bark ranges from deep red to bright yellow. The leaves are elliptical in shape and are a glossy bright green on top and paler green underneath. The red fruits it produces are smaller and harder than those produced by Arbutus unedo (3). It produces pale, bell shaped flowers that range in colour from white to green/yellow (2).
It is an evergreen tree, keeping its leaves all year round. It flowers from March to April and the seeds ripen between September and October. The flowers themselves are hermaphrodite, the tree is self fertile, and is pollinated by bees (2).
It can be found in medium and low elevations (3). It prefers limestone and igneous base rocks. Arbutus andrachne grows best in acid or neutral soils that are sandy or loamy. The soil needs to be well drained and it requires little or no rain yearly. It is not shade tolerant and so cannot grow under a closed canopy (4).
It is found throughout Greece including the Aegean islands (3). It can also be found in the eastern Mediterranean within Turkey, Albanian, Crimea, Lebanon and north Iraq (2).
Description written by Amy Trayler (2009)
(1) Hileman. L. C., Vasey. M. C., and Parker. V.T. (2001) Phylogeny and Biogeography of the Arbutoideae (Ericaceae): Implications for the Madrean-Tethyan Hypothesis, Systematic Botany, 26(1): 131–143
(2) Speedy Look (2007) Arbutus andrachne [online] Available:
http://www.speedylook.com/Arbutus_andrachne.html [date accessed: 30/10/2008]
(3) Sfikas. G. (2001) Trees and Shrubs of Greece, Efstathiadis Group S.A., Greece
(4) Plants for a Future (2008) Arbutus andrachne L. [online] Available:
http://www.pfaf.org/database/plants.php?Arbutus+andrachne [date accessed: 30/10/2008]