I grew up in suburban Philadelphia. and remember hearing references to Arbutus, a city in Maryland, north of Washington DC. In learning the plants of southern Arizona I was pleased to find that this is the botanical name of a very beautiful tree. The common name is Madrone (from a Spanish word meaning “Strawberry Tree”. It is a member of the Heather family (Ericaceae). Botanists call the species in this area, Arbutus arizonica. Recently hiking at 7000 feet, Steve and I saw one with a very wide, blackened trunk. I have read that it can grow for over two hundred years, and this one seemed to fit with that time line having been severely burnt at some time in its life, but still flourishing.

As an evergreen it keeps its leaves all year, but in June a significant number turn a beautiful red, as in this picture. This makes it easy to spot driving up the mountain.

The ones we saw at the end of May had white flowers, like little bottles. The bark is also red. In a few weeks it will support a full crop of beautiful red berries.

4 replies on “ARBUTUS”

  1. Bevan Olyphant says:

    Absolutely beautiful and thanks for
    a bit of History to go with it.

    Pray for the monsoon to get here
    early and stay late.

  2. audrey wann says:

    Beautiful! Thanks for sharing!

  3. Peggy Bendel says:

    Frank, will you be speaking anywhere in the area, or leading wildflower walks this summer? Owen did some beautiful work refinishing our kitchen cabinets last year and told us about your books, paintings and interest in and knowledge of wildflowers. We missed your talk last September unfortunately, but hope to have another opportunity soon!

    • Frank Rose says:

      Thanks Peggy. I will be giving a talk later this month at SaddleBrooke Ranch on Wednesday, June 27th at 1 pm. We have weekly plant walks on the Catalina mountains. We all meet at the Palisades Ranger Station at 9 o’clock every Thursday morning, and take it from there. Frank

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