Madrone Trees

Everthing you need to know about Arbutus Menziesii

Arbutus Menziesii

Known for its smooth peeling bark, the Madrone is native to the western coast of North America, from British Colombia to California. They are mainly found on the Oregon and Californian coast ranges. Although it's scientific name is the Arbutus Menziesii it is more commonly known as Madrono, Madrona, Bearberry, Refrigerator Tree, or Madrone.

Key Charactaristics

Reaching up to 98 ft. tall and 8 ft. thick at the trunk, the Madrone is an evergreen tree, with red-brown bark that naturally peels off in thing layers, revealing the smooth green inner layer. In the spring it bears small flowers and in the Autumn small red berries. When the berries dry up they have hooked barbs that latch onto other animals for migration. The thick, glossy, dark green leaves are evergreen lasting about 2 years before falling off. The Madrone is a dicot angiosperm because it has flowers and the veins on the leaves have numerous auxiliary veins which reticulate between the major ones.


Native Americans ate the berries of the madrone, but because the berries are astringent they were often chewed or made into juice. They also used berries to make necklaces and bait for fishing. Bark and leaves were used to treat stomachaches, cramps, skin ailments, and sore throats. The wood is very hard, having a warm color after finishing, it has become a popular flooring material. It is also used for firewood, because it is so hard and dense it burns very hot and for a long time.

Growing Needs

In its native range the Madrone needs no extra water or food once it has become established. Madrone's grow in sunny, well drained areas. Such as a south or west facing slope. Although drought tolerant, the Madrone is currently declining throughout most of its range. A likely cause is fire control; under natural conditions the Madrone depends on fires to reduce the conifer overstory. Mature trees survive fire, and regenerate faster after they have occurred. They also produce a large amount of seeds, which sprout the following fire. The Madrone is pollinated by bees, hummingbirds also feed from the flowers and may pollinate.

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