Madrones

While leading hikes through the redwood forest, guests often ask me about a strange-looking tree with reddish peeling bark. Children pick the pieces of bark off the ground to show me this intriguing specimen. They are looking at the Pacific Madrone (Arbutus menziesii). While observing this tree they notice its twisted trunk. This tree constantly competes for precious rays of sun with the taller growing redwoods and douglas firs.The broad shape of the leaf maximizes sun exposure. It twists like a slow moving dancers reaching its arms higher and higher.  
The peeling bark of the madrone distinguishes it from other trees in the forest. I often instruct people to touch the smooth part where the the tree recently shed. The tree feels cool; often significantly cooler than the surrounding air. As the tree sheds its bark the amount of tree exposed to the air increases, keeping it cool even on a hot day.This property gives the Madrone the nickname Refrigerator Tree.
The Madrone produces beautiful white urn-shaped flowers in the spring. Later in the fall, bright red berries emerge. The berries are edible and were eaten by many Native American tribes or made into a cider. The Madrone is a stunning tree many who come to Little Basin observe it gentle beauty.
~ Marlayna Kirby
Sources: "Arbutus Menziesii." Arbutus Menziesii. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Sept. 2015.