Gardening sheet   arbutus menziesii
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  • 1. *Madrone – Arbutus menziesii (ar-BYOO-tus menz-ESS-ee-eye ) Family: Ericaceae (Heath Family) Native to: West Coast of N. America from British Columbia to Baja. Locally in the San Gabriels; dry foothills, wooded slopes and canyons in oak, redwood, mixed evergreen forests and chaparral at elevations from 300 to 4,000 feet (in California). Growth characteristics: woody tree mature height: 50-100+ ft. mature width: 25-50 ft. Majestic large woody evergreen tree, must often with several trunks. Crown is broad and spreading with large, heavy branches. Mature bark is shed, exposing new red bark. Leaves leathery, glossy green on top and lighter below, simple 3-5 inches. A very handsome tree. Blooms/fruits: Blooms in spring, March-May depending on weather. Flowers small, white and urn- shaped (like manzanita) in large terminal clusters. Very showy in bloom. Fruits are pea-size, orange to red-brown, bumpy and quite showy. Fruits are edible if cooked or dried – can be used to make a cider-like beverage, or for distinctive jellies or syrups. Uses in the garden: Most often used as an ornamental shade tree (throughout the world). Very dramatic looking – but a bit messy. Does well on slopes and is good for erosion control. Many parts of the plant were used medicinally by Native Californians. Sensible substitute for: Non-native trees. Attracts: Excellent habitat plant: provides cover, nest sites and fruits for birds. Dark-eyed junco, fox sparrow, robin, cedar waxwing, band-tailed pigeon, quail and mammals love the fruit. Mature trees provide homes for secondary cavity nesters such as the acorn woodpecker, downy woodpecker, mountain chickadee, house wren, and western bluebird. Bees are pollinators. Requirements: Element Requirement Sun Part-shade (when young) to full sun. Soil Most local soils, from sandy to clay, if well-draiined; best in pH < 7.5 Water Needs adequate winter/spring rain; mature trees drought tolerant (Water Zone 1-2) Fertilizer None needed Other Bark mulch is fine. Management: Plant in summer-dry area when small. Don’t splash water on trunk or leaves – susceptible to fungal disease. Prune in summer only as needed. Susceptible to insect pests. Propagation: from seed: cold-moist treat 2 months; difficult by cuttings: ? hardwood; sem-soft Plant/seed sources (see list for source numbers): 8, 11, 13, 14, 24, 32 3/31/14 * not native to western Los Angeles County, but a CA native © Project SOUND