Arbutus menziesii, or the Madrone tree, is a beautiful tree native to Western Washington. On a recent trip to Orcas Island I didn’t see any Orca whales but I kept spotting this amazing tree. The most striking feature is the cinnamon red peeling bark in contrast to the young chartreuse green bark. The leaves are evergreen, alternate, oval and leathery. The flowers are white, urn-shaped in large clusters, turning to orange-red berries enjoyed by birds. This tree is not often found in the homeowners landscape, but it occurs naturally on dry, sunny rocky sites, especially around Puget Sound. Arbutus means Strawberry Tree in Latin and menziesii is in honor of Archibald Menzies, a Scottish surgeon, botanist and naturalist.
I’m especially intrigued with the green bark. It’s so vivid and bright. I wonder about photosynthesis and what the advantage is to the tree to have such stunning bark. Bright green to red to peeling away. And then ready to start all over again. I like this tree.