We are coming up to our first Christmas in Turkey for 13 years and I'm in a quandary over what kind of tree to put up. In the past we cut large branches from the pines or dug up one of the seedlings in the garden. This December, after the great clearance, both are in short supply. At this time of year, nature does provide a beautifully decorated evergreen tree that would be perfect as a Noel decoration. The Strawberry tree (Arbutus Unedo) grows to 10 meters tall but in this part of the world is rarely more than 3 metres high. Its pale green or white bell-like flowers take a year to mature so are on the tree at the same time as the fruit. Bright yellow when unripe, the fruit turns a vivid red when ready to eat. I wouldn't cut a whole tree but a few branches in a large vase would look stunning.
Opinion is divided over whether these fruits are edible or not. Pliny the Elder called them "unum edo" i.e. you only eat one of them and they are described in Wikipedia as being "mealy and bland" but if you pick them just before they are very ripe, they have quite an exotic taste - a cross between a guava and a nectarine. When not eaten fresh they are used in Bodrum to make jam, but in Spain and Portugal they are turned into a fiery spirit. Once ripe, these fruit quickly ferment and the mountain strawberry has gained the reputation of making the over-consumer drunk. Hubby and I polished off the berries below but unfortunately experienced no signs of inebriation. Shame - we'll have to pick a few more next time.