Arbutus menziesii Pursh
Pacific madrone, Oregon laurel, Laurelwood
Ericaceae (Heath Family)
USDA Symbol: arme
This is a tall tree, 50-100 ft. (shorter in cultivation), with a graceful, wide-branching habit and oblong, gray-green evergreen leaves. Handsome with tall, reddish-brown trunk and open, narrow, rounded or irregular crown of stout, smooth red branches. Small, white, urn-shaped flowers occur in drooping, terminal clusters and are followed by small, red-orange fruit. The bark peels in thin flakes leaving a polished, reddish-brown surface.
Pacific Madrone is one of the most beautiful broadleaf flowering evergreens, with its glossy foliage, large clusters of small white flowers, orange-red fruits, and very showy, reddish, peeling bark. It is the northernmost New World tree of its family, ranging to Canada. The scientific name honors the discoverer, Archibald Menzies (1754-1842), a Scottish physician and naturalist.
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Plant CharacteristicsDuration: Perennial
Root Type: Tap
Leaf Retention: Evergreen
Leaf Complexity: Simple
Leaf Shape: Elliptic , Ovate
Leaf Venation: Pinnate
Leaf Pubescence: Glabrous
Leaf Margin: Entire
Leaf Apex: Acute
Leaf Texture: Leathery
Breeding System: Flowers Bisexual
Size Notes: Height up to 80 feet, spread 15-75 feet.
Leaf: Dark Green above, silvery-green below
Flower: Flowers 1/4 inch
Fruit: Red, Orange 1/2 in.
Size Class: 72-100 ft.
Bloom InformationBloom Color: White
Bloom Time: Mar , Apr , May
DistributionUSA: CA , OR , WA
Native Distribution: Rocky coastal sites, low to mid elevation, Gulf Islands and south-coastal BC.
Native Habitat: Exposed or wooded slopes & canyons below 5000 ft.
Growing ConditionsWater Use: Low
Light Requirement: Sun , Part Shade
Soil Moisture: Dry , Moist
CaCO3 Tolerance: Low
Drought Tolerance: Medium , High
Cold Tolerant: yes
Heat Tolerant: yes
Soil Description: Sandy, acid, well-drained soil.
Conditions Comments: A. menziesii has been shown to have a symbiotic relationship with mycorrhizal fungi. The fungi enable the madrone to take up nutrients in the soil. Arbutus spp. benefit from wind protection and may need to be trained early to central leaders to offset their tendency toward shrubbiness. A messy tree, A. menziesii is best planted away from well-used areas.
BenefitUse Ornamental: Prized for is distinctive peeling bark but difficult to transplant.
Use Wildlife: Deer and birds consume the fruit, and the flowers are a source of honey.
Use Food: California Indians ate the fruit raw and cooked; however, overeating causes cramps.
Use Medicinal: The Tolowa used the bark for colds.
Use Other: The wood can be used for weaving shuttles.
Conspicuous Flowers: yes
Fragrant Flowers: yes
Butterflies and Moths of North America (BAMONA)Arbutus menziesii is a larval host and/or nectar source for:
Mendocino saturnia moth |
Learn more at BAMONA
PropagationPropagation Material: Seeds , Softwood Cuttings
Description: Growing madrone from seeds can be easy. Plant the tiny seeds in the fall.
Seed Collection: The fleshy layer of the fruit should be removed.
Seed Treatment: Two-three months cold stratification can enhance germination.
Commercially Avail: yes
Maintenance: Pruning as needed.
Find Seed or Plants
Find seed sources for this species at the Native Seed Network.
From the National Organizations DirectoryAccording to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is on display at the following locations:
Santa Barbara Botanic Garden - Santa Barbara, CA
Native Seed Network - Corvallis, OR
BibliographyBibref 1186 - Field Guide to Moths of Eastern North America (2005) Covell, C.V., Jr.
Bibref 1185 - Field Guide to Western Butterflies (Peterson Field Guides) (1999) Opler, P.A. and A.B. Wright
Bibref 841 - Native Alternatives to Invasive Plants (2006) Burrell, C. C.
Bibref 1218 - Tending the Wild: Native American Knowledge and the Management of California's Natural Resources (2006) Anderson, M. Kat
Search More Titles in Bibliography
Additional resourcesUSDA: Find Arbutus menziesii in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Arbutus menziesii in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Arbutus menziesii
MetadataRecord Modified: 2008-10-19
Research By: TWC Staff