Synonyms: Yang Mei or Yangmei (
Red Bayberry, Chinese Strawberry (not to be confused with Arbutus species).
Yumberry/Red Bayberry is a subtropical/temperate tree grown for its sweet crimson to dark purple-red fruit.
It is native to eastern Asia, mainly in
Chinese cultivation is concentrated south of the Yangtze River, where it is of considerable economic importance.
It’s so popular there that about twice as many acres are cultivated as the acres cultivated of apples in the US.
In Japan, it is the prefecturalof Ko-chi and the prefectural tree of Tokushima. The plant's name appears in many old Japanese poems.
It is a small to medium-sized tree growing to 10-20 metres in height, evergreen, with smooth gray bark and a uniform spherical to hemispherical crown. It is dioecious, with separate male and female plants and is pollinated by Wind. It tolerates poor acidic soils. The root system is shallow (5–60 cm), with no obvious taproot. It can fix Nitrogen. It is hardy to zone 10.
The fruit is spherical, 1.5-2.5 cm in diameter, with a knobbly surface. The surface colour is typically a deep, brilliant red, but may vary from white to purple. The flesh colour is similar to surface colour, or somewhat lighter. The flesh is sweet and tart. At the centre is a single, with a diameter about half that of the whole fruit.
Besides fresh consumption, the fruits are commonly dried, canned, soaked in baijiu (a Chinese liquor), or fermented into alcoholic beverages.
A yellow or brown dye may be prepared from the bark.
The plant is also used as ornamental trees for parks and streets.
The fruit has a wonderful unique taste. Succulent, juicy and aromatic, it has a great sub-acid taste. The fruit does not ripen well after it is picked. The fruit is very delicate and soon rots after picking so it is difficult to grow commercially because of the problems of getting it to market in good condition. The fruit is up to 2.5cm/1inch in diameter. The seed is said to be edible too.
Historical Medicinal Uses
The stem bark is used as a wash in the treatment of arsenic poisoning, skin diseases, wounds and ulcers. The fruit is carminative, pectoral and stomachic. The seed is used in the treatment of sweaty feet. The plant is used in the treatment of cholera, heart ailments and stomach diseases.
Prefers a moist soil. Grows well in an open position in a well-drained soil in sun or light shade. Thrives in any ordinary garden soil. Prefers a lime-free loamy or peaty soil.
Not very hardy in Britain, it succeeds outdoors in the milder areas of the country according to one report, whilst another says that it only succeeds in zone 10 and does not tolerate frosts. In China it seems to grow in colder places than zone 10 though. Plants succeed outdoors in Japan as far north as Tokyo, but it is difficult to get them to fruit there.
Plants in this genus are notably resistant to honey fungus. Many species in this genus have a symbiotic relationship with certain soil micro-organisms, these form nodules on the roots of the plants and fix atmospheric nitrogen. Some of this nitrogen is utilised by the growing plant but some can also be used by other plants growing nearby.