Madrona (Arbutus menziesii)

A. procera.
Common Name Latin Name Plant Family
Arbutus menziesii

The inner bark was sometimes used by native North American Indians to make dresses[257].

The leaves can be used to test the temperature of pitch that is being used to waterproof canoes. When the leaves turn black the pitch is ready to use[257].

A brown dye is obtained from the bark[57, 106], it does not need a mordant[168]. Use in spring or summer[168].

The bark is a rich source of tannin[46, 61, 82, 226], it is used medicinally[168]. The tannin is also used as a preservative on wood, ropes etc[257].

Wood – very hard, brittle, durable in water, close grained, heavy, strong. The wood does not split when it dries and so has been used for carving[257]. It is also sometimes used for making furniture, it also produces a fine grade of charcoal[46, 61, 82, 99, 229].

  • Medicinal Use

    The leaves are stomachic and vulnerary[168, 257]. They can be used in the treatment of stomach ache and cramps, colds etc[257]. The leaves can be applied as a poultice to burns[257].

    The bitter principles in the bark and leaves can be used as an astringent[229]. An infusion of the bark has been used in the treatment of diabetes and externally to treat sores, cuts and wounds[257]. It has also been used as a gargle for sore throats[257].

  • Edible Use

    Fruit – raw or cooked[2, 92, 105, 161, 183]. A bland taste[229]. Very sour according to another report[226]. After boiling the fruit can be dried for later use[183]. The fruit is about 15mm in diameter[200].

  • Cautionary Notes

    None known

Cultivation & Habitat

Seed – best surface sown in a cold frame as soon as it is ripe. Stored seed should be soaked for 5 – 6 days in warm water and then surface sown in a shady position in a greenhouse[78]. Do not allow the compost to become dry. 6 weeks cold stratification helps[134]. The seed usually germinates well in 2 – 3 months at 20¡c[134]. Seedlings are prone to damp off[184], they are best transplanted to individual pots as soon as they are large enough to handle and should be kept well ventilated. Grow them on in a greenhouse for their first winter and then plant out in late spring after the last expected frosts[K]. Basal cuttings in late winter[200]. Cuttings of mature wood of the current season’s growth, November/December in a frame. Poor percentage[78]. Layering of young wood – can take 2 years[1, 200].
Requires a lime-free nutrient-rich well-drained moisture-retentive soil in sun or semi-shade and shelter from cold drying winds, especially when young[200]. Succeeds in a limy soil according to another report[182]. Hardy to about -10¡c[200], trees succeed outdoors at Kew but shoots of young plants are apt to be cut back in winter[11]. They grow very well in S.W. England[11]. An ideal plant for the small garden or as a lawn specimen, it has a neat, compact, upright growth habit, retaining its lower leafy branches close to the ground and casting little shade[245]. The flowers have a honey-like fragrance which will pervade the whole garden on calm days[245]. Trees are slow-growing in the wild, living up to 225 years[229], though they are fairly fast growing in cultivation when young[11]. They dislike being transplanted and should be placed in their final positions as soon as possible[11, 134, 166]. Give them some protection in their first winter outdoors. This species is notably resistant to honey fungus[200].
Western N. America – British Columbia to California.

Become ungovernable, break the chains of the matrix; grow and forage your own food and medicine.

*None of the information on this website qualifies as professional medical advice. Take only what resonates with your heart and use your own personal responsibility for what’s best for you. For more information [brackets] [000], see bibliography.