Arbutus - Madrone, Manzanita, Oregon Laurel, Strawberry Tree
DESCRIPTION: This group consists of beautiful, evergreen trees or shrubs. They grow wild in North, South and Central America, Mexico, Asia Minor, southern Europe and the Canary Islands. They only grow from 10 to 20 feet high. A. andrachnoides is a hybrid small tree with attractive cinnamon-red branches that are covered with green leaves slightly edged with red. In late fall and early winter, waxy white, bell-shaped flowers are produced. A. menziesii (Madrone or Oregon Laurel) is a medium-sized tree that occasionally reaches a height of 60 feet. Its reddish-brown bark peels in late summer to expose the fresh green bark underneath. Panicles of white flowers are produced in late spring and are followed by small, orange-yellow fruits. A. unedo (Strawberry Tree or Manzanita) is a small, gnarled tree or large shrub. The shredding bark of the Strawberry Tree is dark brown. In the fall, white flowers and round, warty, red fruits are produced at the same time. The tree can withstand strong winds in coastal regions and tolerates very alkaline soil. A variety of the Strawberry Tree, Rubra, is a large shrub or small tree with pink stained flowers and a profusion of fruits. The wood of the Arbutus is sometimes used to make tobacco pipes and in cabinetwork.
POTTING: These plants should be planted while they are still small, in October or April. A. andrachnoides does better in maritime climates and A. menziesii should be planted in acidic soil. Some pruning may be required to keep the plants looking neat.
PROPAGATION: Seeds may be sown in pots of sandy peat, in February, in a greenhouse with a minimum temperature of 50º F. The lower branches may be layered in the winter or early spring and left undisturbed until the following year. Special varieties may be grafted in a heated greenhouse, in March, on stocks of their particular types.
VARIETIES: A. andrachnoides; A. menziesii; A. unedo & var. Elfin King, Rubra; A. canariensis; A. andrachne.
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