Arbutus menziesii

Common Name: madrone 
Type: Broadleaf evergreen
Family: Ericaceae
Native Range: Western North America
Zone: 7 to 9
Height: 15.00 to 65.00 feet
Spread: 10.00 to 50.00 feet
Bloom Time: April to May
Bloom Description: Creamy white
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Dry to medium
Maintenance: Medium
Flower: Showy
Leaf: Evergreen
Attracts: Birds
Fruit: Showy
Other: Winter Interest
Tolerate: Dry Soil


Best grown in evenly moist to dry, acidic, well-draining soil in full sun to part shade. Requires little fertilization or irrigation once established. Intolerant of poorly drained and water logged soils. Provide afternoon shade or plant on a north-facing slope if grown in hot, dry climates. Does not transplant well. Plant as young as possible and avoid disturbing the roots. Hardy in Zones 7-9.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Arbutus menziesii, commonly called madrone or Pacific madrone, is an evergreen tree native to rocky slopes, ravines, coastal bluffs, and open woodlands from British Columbia, Canada south along the Pacific coast of the United States to southern California. Mature specimens can range widely in size from 15-65' tall (rarely to over 100' tall) with 10-50' wide, moderately dense canopies of contorted branches. The copper-brown bark exfoliates in thin sheets revealing smooth, new bark underneath that ranges in color from green on younger branches to red-orange on older branches. The dark green, glossy, evergreen foliage is elliptic in shape and can reach 5" long and 2" wide. Terminal clusters of small, pendant, creamy white, urn-shaped flowers bloom in spring. The flowers are followed by round berries that can reach up 0.5-0.75" wide and mature from green to bright red-orange. The berries can persist into winter and are an important food source for deer, small mammals, and birds including dark-eyed juncos, fox sparrows, and quails.

Genus name comes from the Latin name for this plant.

The specific epithet menziesii honors Archibald Menzies (1754-1842), Scottish naturalist, botanist, and surgeon.

The common name madrone comes from madroño, the Spanish common name for strawberry tree (Arbutus unedo).


Susceptible to a number of serious diseases including sudden oak death, collar rot, and madrone canker. Foliar blights, rusts, leaf spots, twig dieback, and root rot are also problematic. Watch for fall webworms, leaf miners, and aphids.


Specimen tree for natural settings, wild gardens, mixed borders, and bird gardens. The fruits and shedding bark may be considered a nuisance near patios, walkways, or other high traffic areas.