While traveling in coastal Oregon keep a lookout for a tree that really stands out with it’s red bark and broad evergreen leaves. Various confifer trees dominate the coastal range but if you look you will notice the Pacific Madrone. Madrone is a broadleaved evergreen tree and a member of the heath family (Ericaceae). It is distinguished by its smooth trunk, orange-red deciduous bark, white flowers, and red berries. It is utilized by wildlife, especially birds. It can grow to a height of 80-125 feet tall and although rare may grow up to 4 feet in diameter. Pacific madrone produces seed as early as 3 to 5 years of age. Trees begin flowering in early spring, from mid-March to May, depending on the elevation. The blossoms are dense, drooping clusters (terminal panicles) of small, white, urn-shaped flowers. The fruit is a berry (0.3 to 0.5 in.), which ripens in the fall, turning from yellow-green to bright red or reddish-orange.The wood is also used for furniture, flooring, turnings, paneling, veneer for hardwood plywood faces and core stock, pulpwood, and firewood.
For a pdf fact sheet about the Pacific Madrone from Oregon Department of Forestry see https://www.oregon.gov/ODF/Documents/ForestBenefits/PacificMadrone.pdf
For some more cultural/spiritual thoughts about the Madrone see http://www.arbutusarts.com/sacred-trees.html
“On the British Columbia West Coast, the Salish Nation also honors the Arbutus Tree as their Tree of Knowledge because it knows how to find the sun. It twists and turns and somehow knows to drop one branch when there is not enough sunlight and it is shaded and it will grow a new one where the sun can reach it.”