The Pacific Madrone (Arbutus menziesii), also known as the madroño and ‘bearberry,’ is a tree native to the west coast of North America, with a range from southern British Columbia to southern California. Considered an evergreen, it can reach between 80 and 120 feet (24-37 meters) tall, and it sheds its leaves every 13 to 14 months. The trunk of the Madrone is usually singular but there can be a pair of trunks. The bark is red and very paper-like, peels easily, and the new bark is green underneath.
The Pacific Madrone has leaves very similar to the rhododendron family: green and leathery, persistent, simple, alternately arranged, with margins entire. The Pacific Madrone differs from the rhododendron with its peeling bark and much larger size range, while the rhododendron has slightly rougher bark and a more shrub-like stature. It likes to live in places alongside Douglas-fir and the Oregon white oak.
- Leaves are green, thick, leathery, alternately arranged, with intact margins and pinnate veins
- Bark is papery and red and peels easily, revealing green new bark underneath
- Leaves 15 cm long, about 1-2 cm wide, and oblong
- Produces a red-orange, edible berry preferred by birds
- Sheds its leaves every 13 to 14 months