Arbutus menziesii Pursh
Broadleaf tree, 6-30 cm tall, often with many stems from the base and more shrublike; young bark chartreuse and smooth, aging to deep brownish-red and peeling off. Leaves alternate, evergreen, leathery, egg-shaped to elliptic, glabrous, entire on mature older growth, fine-toothed on young shoots, 5-15 cm long, dark shiny green above and whitish-green below. Flowers in large drooping terminal clusters; corollas white or pinkish, urn-shaped, 6-8 mm long, fragrant. Fruits: berries, globe-shaped, orange to red, about 1 cm across; surface finely granular (Douglas et al., 1999). Photo by Dave Polster.
madrone, Pacific madrone
Dry open forests and rocky slopes on coarse or shallow soils in the lowland and montane zones (Douglas et al., 1999). Dry foothills, wooded slopes and sunny, rocky sites in the south. In the north, on hot, dry, lowland sites and generally in areas with mild oceanic winters. Elevation: sea level to 1800m (Rose et al., 1998).
Rocky, fine-textured soils with low moisture content in summer (Rose et al., 1998). Coarse-textured soils (Pojar and MacKinnon, 1994).
Low moisture content in summer (Rose et al., 1998). Very dry to moderately-dry soils. Characteristic of moisture-deficient sites (Klinka et al., 1989).
Moderately shade-tolerant (Rose et al., 1998).
Occasional in pure or mixed-seral stands (usually with Garry oak or Douglas-fir) on strongly drained sites (Klinka et al., 1989).
bec zone subzone status
Typically associated with Garry oak and Douglas-fir (Pojar and MacKinnon, 1994).
Useful for erosion control on disturbed sites.
Eaten by many types of wildlife; the tree is used by both open-nesting and cavity-nesting birds (Rose et al., 1998).
Highly ornamental species prized for its crooked beauty, colourful bark, showy flowers and brightly-coloured fruit. Good for coarsely drained, sunny, open sites. Underplant with kinnikinnick, Henderson’s shootingstars (B. Costanzo, personal communication).
Saanich used arbutus bark and leaves for colds, stomach problems, post-childbirth contraceptive, and a ten-ingredient bark medicine for tuberculosis and spitting up blood. Straits Salish sometimes cooked reddish, papery bark with camas bulbs to colour them pink (Pojar and MacKinnon, 1994).
Wood is highly decorative but hard to cure properly.
April - May
fruit ripening time
September - October
seed collection time
October - December (Banerjee et al., 2001)
no seeds per kg
collection and abstraction
Dry fruits or macerate and float off pulp (Rose et al., 1998).
Dried seed or berries can be stored at room temperature for one to two years; at 1-4oC for longer periods (Rose et al., 1998). Air dry at 16-20oC and rehydrate to separate seeds (Banerjee et al., 2001).
fruit seed dormancy treatment
Moist stratify at 0.5-4oC for 30-90 days or stratify naturally outdoors over winter. Use sand-peat medium and transplant to individual containers when large enough to handle (Rose et al., 1999).
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additional info and photos
For more information and pictures, visit the E-Flora BC website at www.eflora.bc.ca.