While traveling in coastal Oregon watch for a tree with red bark and broad evergreen leaves. This tree is a Pacific Madrone.
Various conifer 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 bar that peels when the tree is mature. The peeling bark reveals a green satiny, smooth stem.
Seed & Blossoms
Pacific madrone will grow to a height of 125 feet tall and may grow up to 4 feet in diameter. At three to five years old, it will begin to produce seed.
Trees begin flowering in early spring, from mid-March to May, depending on the elevation. The bell-shaped blossoms are dense, drooping clusters (terminal panicles) of small, white flowers.
The fruit is a berry (0.3 to 0.5 inches), that ripens in the fall, turning from yellow-green to bright red or reddish-orange. The berries were used by wildlife and humans for food, decoration, fish bait, and medicine.
The wood is used for furniture, flooring, turnings, paneling, veneer for hardwood plywood faces and core stock, pulpwood, and firewood.
Links & References
To get 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.”