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Q: I am going on holiday in a couple of days to the island of brac in Croatia. My dad told me about a tree there which i have found is called arbutus unedo. Apparently its fruit is very nice when its coulor is red. But when the fruit turns purple its apparently hallucinogenic. He said he forgot the name of the active compound. Can you offer any help?

A: The Arbutus unedo plant is commonly called the Strawberry Tree. It grows mostly in the Mediterranean region as well as in Southern Ireland. While the red round fruit are reported to be bland and somewhat uninteresting to eat, they have a very high sugar content (mature fruit contain over 15% sugar and 0.66% malic acid) and are used to create a number of alcoholic beverages including wines and liqueurs.

In Portugal, the fruit is used to make a spirit called "Aguardente de Medronho" or "Medronho". An alternate beverage called "Brandymel" is made from Medron sweetened with honey. Other beverages made from the Arbutus unedo fruit include 'Liqueur a l'Arbouse' and 'Creme d'Arbouse' from Corsica, and 'Acquavita di Corbezzolo', 'Liquore di Corbezzolo', and 'Fior di Corbezzolo' from Sardinia.

I do not find any reference to there being anything in the fermented fruit (other than alcohol) which would cause hallucinogenic or narcotic effects. It appears that the high sugar content can cause the fruit to ferment on the tree and that eating a few of the fruit after they have fermented may lead to a surprising level of intoxication and/or nausea and vomiting (especially in those unaware of the fermentation).

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Asked By : timewave_0
Answered By : fire
Published Date : 9 / 4 / 2004
Last Edited Date : 9 / 4 / 2004
Question ID : 3079

Categories: [ Plant ID ]

Ask Erowid v1.7 - Jul, 2005

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