What is this tree? I am worried about the brown edges of the leaves.

The tree is evergreen, and does not produce much litter at all, about 10 ft tall, 8 ft wide. It produces a lot of these fruits and have yet to see any ripe one yet (or is this a nut?). The fruit seems to be about 1/2" diameter and somewhat hard at present. (This is a new home and have yet to go through an entire season..) I don't see any remains of these fruits on the ground.

The leaves are turning brownish along the edge and about a 1/3 of the tree has these brown edges. I don't remember seeing the brown spots last year in this new house.

fruit and leaves fruit tree

Tree: about 15 feet tall.. Location: San Francisco Bay area, California, USA Smell - has a familiar smell, but can't pinpoint it, like an unripe bittergourd melon. The closest I have gottten to identify based on pictures is 'osage orange'

  • Oops. Sorry. The location is San Francisco bay area, California, USA.
    – rpkrpk
    May 16, 2018 at 18:57
  • I added location information and a picture of the tree to the question.
    – rpkrpk
    May 16, 2018 at 19:33
  • What has been added to the soil lately? This looks like high salt damage. Have you done any fertilizing? Arbutus unendo
    – stormy
    May 17, 2018 at 2:12
  • No change to the soil and no fertilizing. But this location is indeed close to a saltwater marsh. I wonder if the salt crept up the ground along with ground water levels this last winter. If that is the case, will regular watering through the summer take care of the brown spots?
    – rpkrpk
    May 17, 2018 at 22:46

2 Answers 2


Looks to be some type of Arbutus, probably Arbutus unedo with unripe fruit. Commonly called a Strawberry Tree. These are common in landscaping in the San Francisco bay area.

Arbutus unedo is native to the Mediterranean, but there are also native California relatives with a somewhat similar appearance collectively known as Madrone.

Arbutus Unedo:

Evergreen shrub or small tree, 3-6m tall, with reddish-brown bark that becomes flaky with age. The dense dark green leaves are alternate, leathery, elliptic, 4-10cm long, 2-3cm wide and have a serrated margin.

Arbutus unedo

Ripe fruit:

Arbutus unedo ripe fruit

Unripe fruit:

Arbutus unedo unripe fruit

  • Thanks. The tree indeed produced a few hundred fruits in summer (through October I think) after this was posted. I ate a few. Most of them fell to the ground eventually and is now beginning bloom and fruit again this year. I still see those brown edges and the spots on the leaves.
    – rpkrpk
    Apr 2, 2019 at 21:01

As for the browning leaves, you will definitely want to figure that out as soon as possible. If it's a major tree disease like anthracnose, the trees days could be numbered.

Anthracnose is a fungal disease that does appear in San Francisco gardens. If this problem continues and the browning grows, hit up a certified arborist or horticulturist to diagnose and prevent further spread.

If left unchecked, not only may the tree perish, but it will be a haven for anthracnose to spread to neighboring trees and plants.

Keep a close eye on the tree and read into diseases like anthracnose, leaf scorch or pests that may cause browning.

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