Madrone Arbutus menziesii
Habitat & Elevation Dry, wooded slopes and canyons below 5,000′
Collection Berry: fall; Leaf: all seasons
Pacific Madrone Arbutus menziesii
Plant type Large evergreen tree
Size 25’x25′, larger in nature
Light Full sun to partial shade
Water Drought tolerant
Zone7 to 10
Madrone is a stunning evergreen tree that has large, leathery leaves that are shiny and
green on top and gray underneath. Large clusters of white flowers which bloom in early spring are followed by ½” red to yellow berries in the fall that attract birds. Smooth, reddish bark peels away to expose light green underbark.
Though beautiful in its natural setting, Madrone is temperamental in the garden. Best success can be found in Northern California and in the foothill regions. Plant in a sheltered spot in the shade of other tall trees and reduce watering by the second season to deep and infrequent.[19, 20]
Madrone Berries FRESH/DRIED/FROZEN
Collect berries in fall. For best flavor, harvest when bright red (not orange), often after a frost. Since Madrone trees are tall when they are mature and producing fruit, collect berries from the ground or use a long clipper to reach berries growing on high branches.
- Collect seasonal wild berries.
- 4 cups rolled oats
- 1 cup chopped almonds or other nuts
- ¾ cup coconut
- ¼ cup maple syrup or Manzanita sugar
- ½ cup vegetable oil
- ¾ tsp salt
- ½ cup prepared Oak nut flour
- ¼ cup dried and ground wild berries (Madrone, Manzanita, Toyon)
- ½ cup fresh berries if available
- Preheat oven to 300o.
- Combine the oats, nuts and coconut.
- Add syrup or Manzanita sugar, Oak nut flour, oil and salt.
- Combine and pour onto 2 sheet pans.
- Cook for approximately 1 hour, stirring occasionally.
- Add ground berries.
- Top with fresh berries just before serving.
Madrone Berries with Rice and Veggies
- Collect berries in fall.
- 2 cups cooked brown rice
- 1 onion, chopped finely
- 3 cloves garlic, crushed
- Seasonal veggies, sliced
- Wild nuts (Pine nuts, Walnuts)
- Fresh or frozen Madrone berries
- Cook rice and set aside.
- Simmer onions and garlic until lightly browned.
- Add seasonal veggies and cook until done.
- Add rice to veggies.
- Stir in Pine nuts, Walnuts and fresh Madrone berries.
Ground Madrone Berries
- Collect berries in fall.
- Dry berries.
- Grind into a fine powder.
- Use as a sweet spice or sugar substitute.
TIP Keep in labeled spice jars and sprinkle on a variety of foods to add nutrition and flavor.
Rub crushed, fresh leaves on skin according to the Cowichan Indians.[2, 16]
Colds, Coughs and Sore Throats
Add approximately 5 leaves to boiling water and steep for 20 minutes to make tea. Drink twice daily for colds and gargle as needed for sore throats.
Purification and Ceremony
Leaves were used in puberty ceremonies by the Karok Indians.
Rheumatism, Sore Muscles, Joint Inflammation
Rub crushed leaves on skin.
Chew 1 to 2 leaves for stomachache or cramps, according to the Miwok and Cahuilla Indians, or make Madrone cider by steeping the leaves for 20 minutes.
Chew leaves. (If you can handle the taste, you are strong!)
String fresh or frozen berries of Arbutus menziesii to create necklaces or prayer beads.