E-Flora BC: Electronic Atlas of the Flora of British Columbia

Arbutus menziesii Pursh
arbutus (madrone; Pacific madrone)
Ericaceae (Crowberry family)

Introduction to Vascular Plants

© Kevin Newell  Email the photographer   (Photo ID #1034)

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Distribution of Arbutus menziesii
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This is a distinctive species of tree that is found from southwestern British Columbia south to Baja California.

Daniel Mosquin at the UBC Botanical Gardens says: "It has a seasonal deciduous period – July and August – when all of the previous year’s leaves fall. It just so happens that the current year’s leaves remain on the tree at this time – so it is both evergreen and deciduous."

Source: https://botanyphoto.botanicalgarden.ubc.ca/2006/09/arbutus-menziesii/

Species Information

Click on the image below to view an expanded illustration for this species.

Broadleaf tree, 6-30 m tall, often with many stems from the base and more shrublike; young bark chartreuse and smooth, aging to deep brownish-red and peeling off.
Alternate, evergreen, leathery, egg-shaped to elliptic, glabrous, entire on mature older growth, fine-toothed on young shoots, 5-15 cm long, dark shiny green above, whitish-green below.
In large drooping terminal clusters; corollas white or pinkish, urn-shaped, 6-8 mm long, fragrant.
Berries, globe-shaped, orange to red, about 1 cm across; surface finely granular.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia

USDA Species Characteristics

Flower Colour:
Blooming Period:
Mid Spring
Fruit/Seed characteristics:
Colour: Red
Present from Summer to Fall
Source:  The USDA

Habitat / Range

Dry open forests and rocky slopes on coarse or shallow soils in the lowland and montane zones; common in extreme SW BC; S to Baja CA.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia


Ecological Framework for Arbutus menziesii

The table below shows the species-specific information calculated from
original data (BEC database) provided by the BC Ministry of Forests and Range.
(Updated August, 2013)

Site Information
Value / Class




Elevation (metres) 15 194 2080
Slope Gradient (%) 0 21 135
Aspect (degrees)
[0 - N; 90 - E; 180 - S; 270 - W]
30 260 360
Soil Moisture Regime (SMR)
[0 - very xeric; 4 - mesic;
8 - hydric]
0 2 4
Modal Nutrient Regime
Number of field plots
 species was recorded in:
Modal BEC Zone Class
All BEC Zones (# of stations/zone) species was recorded in: CDF(52), CWH(20), ESSF(1)

Ecological Indicator Information

A shade-intolerant, submontane to montane, Western North American evergreen broad­leaved tree distributed more in the Pacific than the Cordilleran region. Occurs in maritime summer-dry cool mesothermal climates on very dry to moderately dry soils. Restricted to water-shedding sites on southeastern Vancouver Island, Gulf Islands, and adjacent coastal mainland; its occurrence decreases with increasing latitude, elevation and continentality. Occasional in pure or mixed-species young-seral stands (usually with Garry oak or Douglas-fir) on strongly drained sites. Commonly associated with Gaultheria shallon. Characteristic of moisture-deficient sites.

SourceIndicator Plants of Coastal British Columbia (Information applies to coastal locations only)


The climate type for this species, as reported in the: "British Columbia plant species codes and selected attributes. Version 6 Database" (Meidinger et al. 2008), is cool mesothermal.

Taxonomic and Nomenclatural Links

Additional Photo Sources

General References