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Julian Sutton (2021)
Sutton, J. (2021), 'Arbutus × reyorum' from the website Trees and Shrubs Online (treesandshrubsonline.
Intermediate between A. × andrachnoides and A. canariensis, and much resembling A. × thuretiana, but with bark peeling in flakes rather than long strips. Differs from A. × andrachnoides in its young growth having densely glandular-hairy stems; and its larger leaves, some of them more than 3× as long as broad. Differs from A. canariensis in its bark peeling in flakes rather than being shed thoroughly in strips or sheets; and its shorter leaves, rarely more than 3× as long as broad. (Demoly 2004).
This name covers all hybrids between A. × andrachnoides and A. canariensis: thus, these plants have three species in their genetic background, A. unedo, A. andrachne and A. canariensis. Known only from cultivation, they have arisen at least twice: one clone, ‘Marina’, is very well established in the nursery trade and gardens.
A. × reyorum was first described from plants raised in 1984 by Pépinière Jean Rey, France, from open pollinated seed of A. × andrachnoides collected at the Villa Thuret, Antibes (Demoly 2004). The specific epithet honours father-and-son nurserymen Jean and Jean-Marie Rey. As part of his detailed study of Arbutus hybrids originating in Riviera gardens, Demoly was able to show that the pre-existing cultivar ‘Marina’ (see below) closely resembles the type of A. × reyorum. Given the parentage, hardiness could well vary among clones; some of the unselected hybrid seedlings planted out at the Rey nursery (admittedly in the far south of France) may yet prove to be as tough as ‘Marina’ (Demoly 2004).
RHS Hardiness Rating: H4
USDA Hardiness Zone: 8-9
A small to medium tree with excellent reddish bark, glossy dark green leaves, large inflorescences of white flowers flushing deep pink in late summer to autumn, and good crops of fruit, 2–3 cm across and ripening red. It is lime tolerant. Well established on the Pacific seaboard of the United States, in gardens and as a street tree, and widely offered by nurseries from tissue culture (Grimshaw & Bayton 2009, Jacobson 1996). It is also increasingly planted in Mediterranean and maritime Europe. It can grow quickly in areas with warm summers: a specimen at San Marcos Growers, Santa Barbara, CA, reached 13.5 m × 274 cm, with a crown spread of over 16 m, in 23 years (San Marcos Growers 2021).
The origin of this cultivar is convoluted, it apparently having been shipped unrecognised from southern Europe (from which garden or nursery is unknown) to San Francisco in 1917 as a landscaping tree for the Exposition that year. It was propagated by Charles Abrahams at his Western Nursery in the Marina district of San Francisco (hence the cultivar name), and one of the resulting plants was grown at the Strybing Arboretum (now San Francisco Botanical Garden). A cutting from this came into the hands of the San Francisco plantsman Victor Reiter in 1933. Planted in Reiter’s garden in 1944, it reached 15 m before collapsing in 2006. Material from the Reiter tree was introduced to the nursery trade in 1984 by the Saratoga Horticultural Research Foundation (Grimshaw & Bayton 2009, San Marcos Growers 2021).
‘If only one Arbutus were to be planted this should be it’ (Grimshaw & Bayton 2009).
Synonyms / alternative names
Arbutus × reyorum SPRING FROST™
A sport of ‘Marina’ with well-defined creamy white margins to the young leaves. During summer the white areas become green, old leaves then contrasting with the next year’s new foliage. Apparently as fast growing as ‘Marina’ but with lower fruit set. Selected by Manuel Morales of Monterey Bay Nursery, CA, from a production block of ‘Marina’, and introduced by him in 2015; protected by US PP26579 (Monterey Bay Nursery 2021).