Madrone Tree

The Madrone Tree

One of the World's Most Exquisite and a Favorite Tree

Magnificent, dramatic, exciting, mystical, inspiring, magical, sensual ... these are some of the words people use to describe the Madrone Tree, a favorite of the hardwood trees of the Pacific Northwest.

Few trees excite the viewer as much as these do. When visitors come from around the world and discover them in their wild habitat, the reaction is instant: they fall in love with them!

The Madrone Tree or Madrona Tree gets its name from the Spanish word madroño (which means strawberry tree...the early Spanish explorers named it after the similarities to a Mediterranean variety).

In Canada, it is known as the Arbutus Tree. The European species, while quite different, is also called a Strawberry Tree.

Why?Madrone_tree_trunk

Because of the plentiful berries formed in the fall. While bright orange red, the Madrone tree berries are about the size of a small wild strawberry. The color stuck and Madrone or Arbutus Strawberry Tree it is.

It grows from northern California north to southern British Columbia and is found mostly there on the BC Gulf Islands, ending at the Northern Gulf Islands. Found on Cortes Island, BC, they do diminish on the north part of the island and are rare north from there as you get into a much rainier climate.

Madrone trees like sun, really like it! They will twist and turn to find it if a competing fir tree tries to outgrow it. I guess this feature of its incredible shapes is part of what makes it on the list of favorite trees!

Not only is the twisting and bending a big part of its charm, but its bark gives the tree its amazing bite!

Madrone_Tree_bark

The bark sheds in the summer revealing a silky smooth glistening pale green yellow bark underneath. As the new bark ages during the year, it turns red and then dark red.

By then it starts to peel in big shreds adding an amazing feature to the tree.

Older trees do not peel all the way down to the ground. The bark stays but has a shredded look about it often with moss growing up a bit of the tree trunk for effect!

You will also find it called Pacific Madrone or Pacific Madrona for the fact that it loves growing close to the ocean and we mean the Pacific Ocean in this case!

All of these names refer to the same tree, Arbutus Menziesii. The latin word "arbutus" was used in early times around the Mediteranean.

Archibald Menzies, a botanist who came to the Pacific Northwest with Captain George Vancouver in the late 1700s, named the tree. Madrona_Tree_mossy_burlIn fact, it is Canada's only native broadleaved evergreen tree. It looses its leaves only after new ones have grown in the summer so it is never naked of leaves.

In the early spring it starts to grow blossom greens that turn into gorgeous white Arbutus flowers. They perfume the air with a heavenly scent much like a delicate lilac.

By the fall, those blossoms have turned into abundant berries. I should say that this happens only on a "good" year because the amount of blossoms and hence berries depends on the previous summer's weather.

If very hot and dry and drought conditions which sometimes happens, then the following spring will be an abundant year. The trees create the blossoms and its ensuing berries to ensure the survival of the species.

Native Americans do eat those red Madrona berries but mostly use them for a cider. The berries make a gorgeous necklace if you gather them in the fall and pierce them with a needle holding a clear filament. They dry to a hard rock texture. With an Arbutus wood pendant, they would be stunning!Madrona_tree_trunk

The Madrone tree is a Native American sacred tree. Thus the wood was never used for fire even though it burns long and hot. Sacred trees like the Arbutus tree hence make an incredible sacred pendant or sacred necklace.

Later I will share with you more about its history and legend in how the Madrona became a sacred tree. It is a great story.

Native peoples used the bark and leaves for colds. The bark was used for tanning or dyeing and small pieces of wood for tools. Curved limbs could be used for dwellings as their shapes could be ideal for entry ways and roofs.

Today, you will find many custom home builders using branches for banisters and small pieces for drawers and cabinets.

Amongst the trees of the Pacific Northwest, the Madrone Tree is often confused with the Manzanita Tree because of the similar coloring of the bark. split_arbutus_tree_trunk

It is a actually a shrub cousin of the Madrona and you will find more about Manzanita here on ArbutusArts.com.

If you ever want to plant a Madrone Tree in your garden, then do this:

• Get a small seedling from a nursey and less than a foot in height is ideal.

• Mark the compass directions north south on it so you can plant it in the same direction at home.

• Plant it on well drained soil, south to southwest facing and free of lime on poor soil. It actually likes rock and will grab hold with its roots in time.madrone_tree_reaching_sun

• Make sure it gets lots of sun. A rocky bluff is ideal so the water easily drains away in the wet season. It likes it hot and dry in the summer.

• Once it takes do not do anything to it...no extra water or soil additives otherwise you will make it susceptible to diseases.

If this works you win the prize as a green thumb gardener! And you will have something wonderful to watch for the next several hundred years!

ps. Keep the seedling protected from deer who love baby Arbutus trees and will eat the tender leaves.

If a live Madrone tree falls down in a storm, the deer will strip it bare of its leaves in no time. If it has berries, they will be gone in a flash.

They love arbutus tree berries as do many birds! And bees and butterflies love its blossoms.

I have been able to entice a giant buck to eat them out of my hand because he could not reach high enough on the trees to get them. Madrone_tree_nose

He watched me pick them. I left a trail of yummy berries (in his eyes!) to me with the last batch in my hand.

That was quite a thrill looking into his huge brown eyes as he nibbled! I called him Bucky. You can read more about Bucky in my journal.

A Madrona tree can grow to 100 feet in height and giants can be from 5-10 feet in diameter. But most will be much smaller as they often cling to the rock on cliffs and perches above the sea.

If blown over in a storm, they will still grow as long as the roots are attached. It will grow new branches facing the sun.

The shapes and contours are endless and a big part of what makes the Madrone Tree such a favorite tree for so many who discover its charms.

One amazing feature are the knobs created when a branch dies. Actually a branch can die for several reasons ...Madrona_tree_base...if another tree, like a Douglas Fir, competes for sunlight and blocks it, the branch will die off.

...if a drought happens in the summer, the tree will sacrifice a branch for its moisture and allow the branch to die.

...or if a limb breaks off in a storm.

...then the live part of the branch retreats back to the main trunk or branch and leaves behind these knobs. Some have startling features!

No wonder the Madrone Tree tops the list of favorite trees!

For more on the Madrona Tree, please go to the page below on the Arbutus Tree. Remember it is the same thing, just a different name, but you will find more valuable insights there.

------------

... and here is another view of Mt Denman at the end of Desolation Sound, taken from Tiber Bay on Cortes Island, BC.

This mountain always thrills me with its majesty and pyramid shape. Fresh winter snows on high do delight the eye! ...


Desolation Sound and Mt Denman winter

What's Your Favorite Picture or Story about a Madrone Tree?

If you have been to the coast or live here, then perhaps you have a Madrone tree story or favorite picture to share.

Whatever it is, please share it here!

It's easy to do and lots of fun!

And you'll have your own web page to send friends and family to check out.

Enter Your Title of Your Submission

Tell Us Your Story! It's Easy...just start writing...[ ? ]

Upload your Favorite Picture of a Madrone Tree (optional)[ ? ]

Add a Picture/Graphic Caption (optional) 

Click here to upload more images (optional)

Author Information (optional)

To receive credit as the author, enter your information below.

Your Name

(first or full name)

Your Location

(e.g., City, State, Country)

Submit Your Contribution

Check box to agree to these submission guidelines.


(You can preview and edit on the next page)

What Other Visitors Have Said

Click below to see contributions from other visitors to this page...

Woodturners Gold 
I began wood-turning two years ago when I had to make twenty-seven magic wands for a grandchild's Harry Potter birthday party. I knew then that this was …

Madrone Firewood! 
One day, I was cutting firewood out in southern Oregon and ran across an unfamiliar wood. My friend that was with me told me that it was a hardwood called …

Love it or Hate it- Arbutus Tree? 
I read with interest your account of the Madrone tree...which I also used to love. When I moved to the West Coast of British Columbia (from …

Santa Anita Canyon Madrone 
I am a hiker in Southern California. One of my favorite areas is in the San Gabriel Mountains of the Angeles National Forest. On returning several …

Window view of Madrone Tree 
I like the abrupt changes in the direction of the branches. It seems so random and gives it an exotic look to me. We live in Port Angeles and own a house …

My Madrone Tree 
My husband and I just returned from a magical trip in Yosemite, one of our favorite places to go backpacking. It is here that I first fell in love with …

Madrona Mia True Love? 
Madrona Mia loves me…she loves me not…she loves me… Yes, my cherished cluster of Madrones I’ve adopted gave me a universally recognized sign expressing …

Largest Madrone Tree In The World? Not rated yet
I HAVE A VERY LARGE, BEAUTIFUL MADRONE ON MY PROPERTY, IT MAY BE OF EPIC PROPORTIONS, BUT I DO NOT KNOW THE SIZE OF THE LARGEST MADRONE IN THE WORLD. …

Madrone carrying a large rock. Not rated yet
This Madrone is in Olympic National Park. The rock is about three feet off the ground. -------------- Arbutus Ron here... Wow is that ever amazing! …

I'm "crushed" that I can't wait for this tree to grow! Not rated yet
I'm a "tree lover" so last year I hated to sell my house, 2 miles from Pacific Ocean/Central Coast because it has two 30 yr.old "strawberry" trees! …

Visits to Lake Madrone, CA Not rated yet
When I was a little girl, we use to go our grandparents cabin at Lake Madrone, just above the Oroville Dam. Once we unloaded the station wagon, swept …

My own Madrona Tree Not rated yet
A few years back, 6-7, I found a tree nursery in Olympia, WA that sold local native trees and they had madrona trees. Since I moved here from Alaska …

My Own Madrona Tree Not rated yet
A few years back, 6-7, I found a tree nursery in Olympia, WA that sold local native trees and they had madrona trees. Since I moved here from Alaska …

Dad's Favourite Tree Not rated yet
The arbutus tree was my Dad's all time favourite tree. He passed away 10 years ago now. The year after he died I bought a little arbutus tree from …

Madrona Mia-Death By Wicked Winds Not rated yet
There is an area on our property at Whalebone we call, “John’s Garden.” It is sunny, mostly level and is surrounded by wilderness trees: Redwoods, Oaks …

Planting a Madrone Tree Not rated yet
I first saw a Madrone in the Hill Country region of Austin, Texas. We had to stay about 20 ft away from it. I have a young tree (about three inches high) …

Arbutus Trees Not rated yet
Arbutus trees are small trees or shrubs with red flaking bark and edible red berries. Fruit development is delayed for about five months after pollination …

Confusion between Madrone Trees and Manzanita Bushes Not rated yet
Thanks for this great article. I was one of those confused between the two. I grew up near Seattle and had seen Madrone Trees many times and when I moved …

Heartthrobe Madrona Mia Not rated yet
I could hardly wait, the following Sunday, to scope out my heartthrob tree limb. I just knew it would be close as to whether the heart was still beating …

Madrona Mia What Views Part I Not rated yet
A special cluster of Madrones on our Whalebone property, the "upper crust" commands several spectacular views; especially the distant unique cave formations.... …

Madrona Mia What Views Part 2 Not rated yet
If you read my first Madrona Mia What Views there were no photos of my second favorite viewing level, the “ultra crust”. This level is the highest on …

In my own backyard...a Madrone Tree? Not rated yet
... I had a tree I could not identify, and we have a very good nursery, here in Oakhurst, about 15 miles from the gates of Yosemite National Park (3000 …

Madrone trees in Fort Davis Not rated yet
My Father Discovered some Madrone trees growing in Fort Davis and was really excited! He asked the land owner if he could collect some seeds and they gave …

Click here to write your own.



Here is the place where you can opt in to my newsletter and get updates and inside news. I will also be able to send you info on special offerings or contests with prizes where you can compete for best photo in different categories as an example. I will let you know when this happens. Just add your email here:

Subscribe to Arbutus Arts Newsletter...
Enter your E-mail Address
Enter your First Name (optional)
Then

Don't worry — your e-mail address is totally secure.
I promise to use it only to send you Arbutus Arts Newsletter.


Go to Wood Craft Gifts Shopping Page

Go from Madrone Tree to Arbutus Tree

Return from Madrone Tree to Arbutus Arts Home Page

Go to Madrone Wood

SBI!

New! Comments

Have your say about what you just read! Leave me a comment in the box below.