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A tree indigenous to the Pacific North West of North America including parts of Washington State, British Columbia, Vancouver Island, Georgia Strait, and the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

Unlike the many coniferous trees found in the same habitat, the Arbutus tree has oval shaped waxy green leaves that sprout year long. The bark of the tree is the most characteristic part , as it is the flaky paper like crimson coloured bark which sheds seasonally to reveal a tawny yellow trunk.

superkingdom Eukaryota
kingdom Plantae
division Magnoliophyta (formerly Phylum Tracheophyta)
class Magnoliopsida (formerly Class Angiospermae)
subclass Dilleniidae
order  Ericales
family Ericaceae
subfamily Vaccinoideae
tribe Arbuteae
genus Arbutus

A genus of 10-15 species of broadleaf evergreen trees and shrubs.  Red peeling bark, clusters of white flowers, large strawberry-like fruit that are edible but not very tasty.  The 5 North American species of arbutus are called 'Madrona' or 'Madrone', while European and Asian arbutus are called 'Strawberry tree'.

  • A. andrachne (Cyprus Strawberry tree) (Greece, Turkey, Cyprus, Lebanon, Israel)
  • A. arizonica (Arizona Madrone) (Northern Mexico and Arizona)  (pointy leaves)
  • A. canariensis (Canary Islands)
  • A. madrensis (Sierra Madre Occidental)
  • A. menziesii (Pacific Madrone) (U.S. Pacific Coast and British Columbia)
  • A. occidentalis (central Mexico)
  • A. pavarii (Cyrenacia aka Jamahirya, Libya)
  • A. tessellata (Madroño negro) (north-central Mexican mountains) (dark grey bark)
  • A. unedo (Arboç or Strawberry Tree) (Mediterranean, mostly in Europe; also Ireland)
  • A. xalapensis (aka A. texana or A. glandulosa) (Texas Madrone) (Texas and far northeastern Mexico)  (oval leaves)

A. x arachnoides is a hybrid between A. andrachne and A. unedo. The rare 'trailing arbutus' (aka 'Mayflower') can be found in genus EpigaeaSeveral species formerly classed in Arbutus are now listed in Gaultheria.

Among other sources,

"Ericaceae--Part II. The Superior-Ovaried Genera (Monotropoideae, Pyroloideae, Rhododendroideae, and Vaccinioideae p.p.)."
Modified for WWW,  New York Botanical Garden,.

USDA Forest Service, Center for Wood Anatomy Research, technology transfer fact sheet: Arbutus spp.

Ar"bu*tus (#), Ar"bute (#), n. [L. arbutus, akin to arbor tree.]

The strawberry tree, a genus of evergreen shrubs, of the Heath family. It has a berry externally resembling the strawberry; the arbute tree.

Trailing arbutus Bot., a creeping or trailing plant of the Heath family (Epigaea repens), having white or usually rose-colored flowers with a delicate fragrance, growing in small axillary clusters, and appearing early in the spring; in New England known as mayflower; -- called also ground laurel.



© Webster 1913.

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