Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Nominate a Meadow Vista Tree: Giant Madrone

By Rich Walker, Local Resident

This one I call the Giant Sequoia of Madrone trees. It’s just off a path, locals refer to as the Madron trail between the end of Van Giesen Rd., near Sherwood Way. This Madrone matriarch has produced an entire Madrone forest, or grove, where birds and animals and the wind have spread her seeds. It was hard to get a good picture to really do it justice as the trees are so dense you’re photographing under the canopy, and surrounded this time of year by a dense forest of Poison Oak. This tree really should be registered on the as a national Historic tree as one of this magnitude is so rare in these parts. No doubt others exist, just as grand, somewhere in the canyon, but this is right here in Meadow Vista.
 The whole tree appears to be a consummation of 2 separate trees, one with a trunk diameter of 8 ft., and the other 3 ft. The combined circumference is about 35 ft. The tree height exceeds 40 ft. Most of tree family seems to be uphill from this grand Matriarch, no doubt the direction of the prevailing uphill winds.
 When you encounter this on the trail, it makes you stop and say “WOW oh WOW, look at this!”, and “What a sight!”. It’s like visiting our the local grove of Giant Sequoias, located just outside Forest Hill, but this sight is right here in our own little town.
 Below is some interesting information about the Madrone species, Arbutus Mensiesii that I found as I was learning more about this tree, and states why we’re seeing a decline in mature trees.
 Arbutus menziesii is a broadleaf evergreen tree with rich orange-red bark that peels away on the mature wood, leaving a greenish, silvery appearance that has a satin sheen and smoothness. The exposed wood sometimes feels cool to the touch. In spring, it bears sprays of small bell-like flowers, and in autumn, red berries. The berries dry up and have hooked barbs that latch onto larger animals for migration.
 Although drought tolerant and relatively fast growing, Arbutus menziesii is currently declining throughout most of its range. One likely cause is fire control: under natural conditions, the madrone depends on intermittent naturally occurring fires to reduce the conifer overstory. Mature trees survive fire, and can regenerate more rapidly after fire.

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