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Pacific Madrone
Arbutus menziesii  
 
"Foliage, bark, flower, and fruit of madrone consummate one of Nature's most ornamental works of art. "  
 
Arthur Kruckeberg, "The Natural History of Puget Sound Country."
 

Elegant Erosion Control

Stately and sculptural, the madrone grips rocky outcrops and dry bluffs along Puget Sound. The madrone provides excellent erosion control. Madrone roots spread widely and hold soils in place. Madrone leaves shield soils from pounding rain.

Madrones Make Habitat

Madrones harbor many insect eating birds including: the Orange-crowned Warbler, the Chestnut-backed Chickadee, and the Hutton's Vireo. The Band-tailed Pigeon, Varied Thrush, and the Spotted Towhee feed on madrone berries. Older madrone trees provide nesting cavities for birds such the Red-breasted Sapsucker, the Hairy Woodpecker, Downy Woodpecker, Mountain Chickadee, House Wren, and Western Bluebird. Bees are also attracted to madrone trees. Arching over beaches and shallow waters, madrones help shade developing fish such as surf smelt.

Madrone Facts

  • Broad-leaved evergreen tree.
  • Can reach 75 feet high.
  • Can live over 200 years.
  • Coppery-brown peeling bark stays cool to the touch year round.
  • Flowers in the spring, strawberry-red berries form by late summer.
  • Berries may linger until winter, unless the birds eat them.
  • Thrives in dry western exposures.
  • Cannot tolerate root disturbance, too much water, or fertilizer.
Madrones Make A Useful Mess  
 

Madrones drop "litter" year round; peeling bark, leaves, flowers, berries and twigs. Eventually this material decomposes and adds valuable organic matter to soils.

madrone bark
 

Don't Mess With Madrones

The madrone is adapted for well drained, dry soil. However, property owners often surround madrones with lush lawns and flowerbeds. The extra water and fertilizer can kill a large madrone within a few years.

  • Don't overwater or fertilize madrone trees.
  • Don't disturb or compact root zones during construction or landscaping.
  • Avoid injuring bark with lawnmowers, cars, and heavy equipment.

Related Links

Arbutus menziesii, Pacific madrone, Native Plants, Washington State University. Madrone description, cultivation, propagation.  

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