Colin Kelleher (National Botanic Gardens)

Project Background

The Strawberry tree (Arbutus unedo) has a predominantly Mediterranean distribution. The Irish populations are disjunct from the major populations in the Mediterranean, Portugal and Spain. To date we still do not understand where the populations in Ireland have come from. A project currently underway has developed molecular markers that are proving useful in distinguishing European populations and may eventually determine the origins and native status of the Irish populations.

Project aims

This project aims to situate the Irish populations into a European context to investigate their origins. Molecular markers have been identified and are being applied to discern patterns of genetic variation within the populations.

Project Staff and Partners

Colin Kelleher (National Botanic Gardens), Evelyn Gallagher (National Botanic Gardens). The project is funded by Ireland’s National Television and Radio Broadcaster, RTE, as part of a documentary on the origins of our flora. Samples were given by Leonardo Beccarisi from the Torre Guaceto reserve in southern Italy and from central Italy by Michele Bozzano, Bioversity International.