Pacific madrone – Arbutus menziesii
Although the madrone looks foreign to Washington, it is actually endemic to the Pacific Northwest. Its twisting branches, vibrant red bark, glossy leaves, and fragrant flower clusters are hard to miss. People along the west coast of the U.S. call it ‘Pacific madrone,’ ‘madrona,’ or sometimes ‘Coast Madrono,’ but British Columbians often refer to it as its Latin genus name ‘Arbutus.’ 

Because these trees live for such a long time, older branches will grow at an angle to reach the sunlight creating crooked limbs and distinctive peeling bark. This phenomena is opposite of how conifers grow because in conifers, the trunk is dominant over other side stems. This broadleaved evergreen tree attracts hummingbird and other pollinators with its nectar in the spring. Birds and mammals naturally love their red berries and they provide excellent nesting ground when they eventually rot. The berries are astringent, so they are not frequently eaten raw by humans. Its leaves and bark though, can be used in tea to treat sore throats and stomach aches. 

The Pacific madrone population is declining; likely due to fire control. Madrones do not endure fire well, but when they must, mature trees regenerate faster than other fellow trees like Douglas firs. The seeds of a madrone sprout post-fire. It’s easy to admire all of madrone’s special features and enjoy this exotic-looking native when you spot it.

More knowledge: 

Pacific Madrone

Arbutus menziesii