A well-loved native evergreen tree of the area, no one can miss its distinctive, rich red trunks with peeling bark. Leathery, three-to-six-inch leaves are shiny dark green on top, gray-green beneath. Clusters of exquisitely fragrant, small, urn-shaped flowers stand out from the evergreen foliage, and are followed by bright orange-red berries in late fall, favorites of robins and other birds. Best transplanted when small, it is often multi-stemmed, reaching from 25-80 feet in height, and about as wide. Drought tolerant when established, the Madrone likes sun and needs good drainage.
A distinctive native, the Madrone is prized by those who have it, and worth trying to find a spot to put it. Because it resents excessive water, it is a good choice for dry sites along with manzanita, mountain mahogany, and other drought tolerant species. Butterflies sip nectar from the blossoms and the leaves provide food for their larvae. Fruit is eaten by quail, flickers, waxwings, grosbeaks, varied thrushes and robins. The thrushes and robins sometimes eat the fruits after they have been frosted--and fermented, often with loopy, inebriated results. Drive country roads carefully when you see such bird behavior.
Zones: 6 to 9
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