A Traveler and his Cat exploring America.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Manzanita and Madrone

A few days ago I posted some pictures of peely bark and received several comments to the effect of not ever having seen bark like this before. So I went into the forest again to get some more pictures and talk about the plants that do this. First off though, I mistakenly wrote Madrone on that post when it was actually a manzanita bush. I wasn't thinking. Now I could be off on some of the following as I am no expert on this or of anything for that matter.

The two, manzanita and madrone are related. In fact there are 106 different varieties of this species of plant. They range from British Columbia south along the western states on into Mexico. Both are evergreens. Manzanita is more like a bush where madrone is a tree, although some manzanita can be as large as a tree.

When the bark beneath the surface grows, the outer bark will peel away in that interesting way.
This is manzanita...

and here the madrone tree with its peeling bark.

This manzanita is more like a tree...

and here is a madrone that leaves no doubt that it is a tree.

The leaves of the manzanita are small. Manzanita in Spanish means little apple. The berries are small, edible and when soaked in water makes for a tasty cider, although I have not tried it. The bark can be used as a tea for nausea and upset stomach. If I have an upset stomach I think I'll stick to something over the counter. I found that Native Americans used manzanita leaves as toothbrushes. I might try that next time out.

The leaves of the madrone are much larger and shaped like those of a rhododendron .
(now where is that picture of the madrone leaf I thought I took?)

In spring the madrone produces large bunches of small white flowers while the manzanita has these red velvet like flowers, which also can be eaten or at least for most species.

It is not spring so I couldn't get a picture of the madrone flower, so I swiped this off the Internet.
Here too you can see the leaf which I was sure I had a picture of.

The madrone tree is also known as the refrigerator tree. Even on the hottest days of summer, the smooth green surface of the trunk is cool to the touch. That I can attest to.
So be cool and hug a tree.



  1. yeah! LOVE both these, manzanita and madrone. Their textures make for such awesome photos. I can stare at them for a while. Good post! And..hello again! :)

  2. the trees and blooms are beautiful and interesting, but that peeling bark (kind of growing pains from the inside out) just makes me HURT! imagine if in order to grow, we'd have to shed our skin in curls like this. (and i know, our skin is sloughing off every minute, but at least it's not spliting and peeling and curling...)

  3. it's interesting that you end with "hug a tree". that was the first thought in my head when I saw the first of your "tree" shots. I just wanted to be able to touch it. what unique trees. I'm happy that you've edified me here, because these are each foreign to me, maybe that's why I like them so much - unfamiliar. but I love just about any tree I guess. the peeling bark is so beautiful. this last photo is wild gorgeous. I want one of these. I'm with Johnny Nutcase - I could stare a good long while.

  4. The chipping of the bark is pretty unusual. I can't see a person hugging a tree like this one. But looking at it for as long as you want would be a treat. Nice photos, I especially like the last photo.

  5. This is an interesting post, exotic to me.

  6. Boy, they sure make interesting texture! Beautiful, rich colors too. I think we have some of those in Oregon, in the southern part. Nice photo series.

  7. Great pictures! Manzanita's delicate pink and white bell-shaped flowers are a fun January find before summer berries.

  8. Hi John,
    Nice blog. I spent the day at Castle Rock State Park in Los Gatos, CA and saw some wonderful manzanita there. I found your blog while doing some research on them. I didn't realize they could grow so high as was the case with some at Castle Rock. Really beautiful trees.
    I was up your way for my son's soccer game in November. Just had to stop by the Russian River Brewery for a pint of Pliny the Elder. Delicious.
    Be well and have a good 2014 with Sinbad. Is Sinbad a Maine coon? I had a Maine coon as a kid that looked a lot like Sinbad. Great cats.
    Andy from Sunnyvale, CA

  9. Great photos and interesting information. Found your blog while trying to find out why the bark of these species feels cool to the touch. Just wanted to let you know that what you refer to as a manzanita flower (the red velvety pic), is not a manzanita flower. I live near Sonora and we have lots of manzanita. I work at 4,100' where we have whiteleaf and greenleaf manzanita. You'll see a nice pic of whitleaf flowers here: http://www.backyardnature.net/n/w/manzanit.htm


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