Madrona tree (Arbutus)

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A beautiful tree, abundant on the west-coasts in Washington State. Locally referred to as the Madrona tree. I’ve attached 3 photographs below. The Seattle district of “Magnolia” is reportedly named after an entry in Captain Vancouver’s ships’ log where, from a distance, he mistook the Madronas for Magnolias.

The Government of British Columbia Ministry of Forest refer to the tree as:

Arbutus is the only native broadleaf evergreen tree in Canada. Another common name is madrone, a Spanish word for the strawberry tree, of which arbutus is a close relative. The Scottish botanist Archibald Menzies first collected specimens in 1792 and described it as the oriental strawberry tree.”

A US ‘animal lovers’ website refers to it as:

“Arbutus, genus of small trees and shrubs of the heath family, including the madrona tree (Arbutus menziesii) of California and Oregon, and the strawberry tree (Arbutus unedo) of Europe. In the eastern United States a closely related genus is called trailing arbutus. Arbutus menziesii is broadleaf evergreen tree, up to 30 metres tall, usually with a crooked or leaning trunk that divides into several twisting upright branches and an irregularly rounded crown.”

An Irish botanical website makes references to the “shrubs’ in ancient history:

“the fruit was known to the ancients, but according to Pliny (who gave the tree the name of Arbutus) was not held in much esteem, as the name implies (un ede=one 1 eat), the fruits being considered so unpalatable, that no one tasting them for the first time would be tempted to repeat the experiment. Nevertheless, there is some evidence that at one time the fruit was an article of diet with the ancients. Horace praises the tree for its shade and Ovid for its loads of ‘blushing fruit.’ Virgil recommends the young shoots as winter food for goats and for basket-work.”

This comment piqued my interest:

“When eaten in quantities this fruit is said to be narcotic, and the wine made from it in Spain has the same property.”

Wendy Fancies-a-drop-of-madrona-fruit-wine

Madrona tree (Arbutus)
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