Arbutus menziesii Pursh


Common name: Pacific madrone.

Family: Ericaceae.

Flowering time: Mid spring.

Fruiting time: Summer.

Habitat: This medium sized tree occurs in mixed evergreen forests, oak woodlands, chaparral and coastal coniferous forests. It can grow in shrub form when found on poor sites.

Range: Found from Vancouver Island south throughout California to Mexico. In California it is found west of the Sierra and along the coast at elevations below 5,000 feet.

Ecology: Madrone is moderately fire tolerant and can re-sprout after being burned or cut. It is shade tolerant only when young and when found in the forest is in dry, sun exposed areas. While its foliage is not eaten, deer eat its flowers and small mammals and birds eat the berries.

Ethnobotanical information: The leaves can be chewed for stomachaches and cramps. Karok Indians used the leaves in their puberty ceremony. Kashaya Pomo Indian women would decoct the bark and use it as an astringent to close the pores and make the skin soft. Mendocino Indians would chew fresh leaves and then swallow the juice for colds and sore throats. Yurok, Tolowa, and Karok Indian children would use the bark as sleds. The wood was widely used by Native Americans for carving because it will not split when dry. Inner bark was used to sew dresses, and make necklaces. Berries could be eaten fresh, roasted or dried and stored as a winter food source.


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