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ARBUTUS arizonica

Image of Arbutus arizonica

Family

Ericaceae

Botanical Name

ARBUTUS arizonica

Plant Common Name

Arizona Madrone

General Description

A picturesque tree, the Arizona madrone develops a rounded crown of leathery foliage atop a twisting frame of branches. Clusters of tiny white flowers are followed by edible reddish fruits. This evergreen is native to the forested foothills and lower mountains of southern Arizona, New Mexico and northern Mexico.

The satiny oval leaves are long, narrow and persist on the tree for about one year before being shed. Each leaf is medium to deep green with a paler green underside. Leaf edges may or may not be toothed. Clusters of tiny white to pale pink, urn-shaped flowers occur from late winter to spring, and occasionally again in summer. Bees pollinate the blossoms, which then develop into small, orange-red fruits. The fruits are edible but should be left for wildlife to enjoy. Mature specimens develop textured bark that breaks off into plates and flakes away leaving smooth patches of pale gray and pinkish bark. New twigs are green and turn reddish brown as they mature.

Grow the Arizona madrone in abundant sunshine and a moderately fertile, well-drained soil. It grows successfully in slightly acid to alkaline ground. Though tolerant of drought, it performs better if provided some soil moisture in the heat of summer. Never plant this tree in shade or soggy soils. Plant it as a specimen tree in a rocky hillside garden or open upland landscape.

Characteristics

  • AHS Heat Zone

    12 - 6

  • USDA Hardiness Zone

    7 - 10

  • Sunset Zone

    8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24

  • Plant Type

    Tree

  • Sun Exposure

    Full Sun, Partial Sun

  • Height

    18'-45' / 5.5m - 13.7m

  • Width

    20'-30' / 6.1m - 9.1m

  • Bloom Time

    Spring, Late Spring, Early Summer

  • Native To

    Southwestern United States, Mexico

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH

    Neutral, Alkaline

  • Soil Drainage

    Well Drained

  • Soil type

    Clay, Loam

  • Tolerances

    Drought

  • Growth Rate

    Slow

  • Water Requirements

    Drought Tolerant, Average Water

  • Habit

    Twisted/Contorted

  • Seasonal Interest

    Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest

    Showy

  • Flower Color

    White, Light Pink, Ivory

  • Fruit Color

    Red, Coral, Orange Red, Dark Salmon

  • Foliage Color (Spring)

    Light Green

  • Foliage Color (Summer)

    Green, Light Green

  • Foliage Color (Fall)

    Green, Light Green

  • Foliage Color (Winter)

    Green, Light Green, Dark Green

  • Bark Color

    Sienna, Gray

  • Fragrant Flowers

    Yes

  • Fragrant Fruit

    No

  • Fragrant Foliage

    No

  • Bark or Stem Fragrant

    No

  • Flower Petal Number

    Single

  • Repeat Bloomer

    Yes

  • Showy Fruit

    No

  • Edible Fruit

    Yes

  • Showy Foliage

    Yes

  • Foliage Texture

    Medium

  • Foliage Sheen

    Glossy

  • Evergreen

    Yes

  • Showy Bark

    Yes

Special Characteristics

  • Bark Texture

    Platy

  • Usage

    Feature Plant, Foundation, Mixed Border, Rock Garden / Wall, Shade Trees

  • Sharp or Has Thorns

    No

  • Invasive

    No

  • Attracts

    Birds

  • Self-Sowing

    Yes