Scientific name: Arbutus menziesii
- Order: Ericales
- Family: Ericaceae
- Genus: Arbutus
- Species: A. menziesii
Best known for its red, peeling bark, the Pacific madrone is a slow-growing tree native to the North American Pacific coast. This unique evergreen tree has smooth, oval-shaped leaves and clusters of small white flowers that bloom in the spring. Fruits form soon after and by late fall, the berries ripen into a reddish-orange color. Pacific madrones enjoy dry climates and rocky soil but can be quite messy, since they shed their papery bark year-round and drop leaves as new foliage matures.
Pacific madrones attract many types of wildlife. Pollinators enjoy nectar from the tree’s white flowers, birds feast on the berries, deer eat the leaves, and woodpeckers make their homes in tree cavities.
Madrone berries are also edible for humans and can even be pressed into a cider or ground into a spice! Furthermore, the bark can be made into tea and the leaves have medicinal properties. Aside from culinary uses, Pacific madrone is also utilized in woodworking and serves as a popular firewood.