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Arbutus

Arbutus menziesii

Arbutus (Pacific Madrone)

APPEARANCE

Also known as the Pacific madrone, the Arbutus has distinctive reddish bark, thick waxy leaves and a beautiful twisted stem that can grow to 30 metres tall. It can grow one metre thick at the base and is the only evergreen broadleaf tree in Canada.

RANGE & HABITAT

This tree is found from Mexico to southern Vancouver Island and mostly grows on sunny, rocky shores or outcrops. It is often found growing with douglas fir and usually grows within one and a half kilometres of the ocean. In B.C. this plant is found in the Georgia Depression ecoprovince.

LIFE CYCLE

The arbutus has white flowers in spring with bright red berries in the late summer and fall. It grows a new layer of bark every year, peeling off the old layer. The new green bark can photosynthesize, meaning it can make its own food.

ANIMAL USES

Crows, ravens, woodpeckers, waxwings and other birds are attracted to its bright orange berries.

TRADITIONAL FIRST NATIONS USES

Arbutus wood has historically been used for walking sticks and its berries for decorative necklaces and beads. Arbutus bark and leaves have medicinal purposes such as use for colds, stomach problems and tuberculosis.

MODERN USES

The wood of the tree is very hard & twisted, but useful for small walking sticks & woodcrafts.

STATUS

COSEWIC: Not at Risk
CDC: Yellow

MORE INFORMATION

Government of BC Tree Book

Photo: Calypso Orchid