Herb: Madrona


Latin name: Arbutus menziesii


Synonyms: Arbutus procera


Family: Ericaceae (Heath Family)



Medicinal use of Madrona:

The leaves are stomachic and vulnerary. They can be used in the treatment of stomach ache and cramps, colds etc. The leaves can be applied as a poultice to burns. The bitter principles in the bark and leaves can be used as an astringent. An infusion of the bark has been used in the treatment of diabetes and externally to treat sores, cuts and wounds. It has also been used as a gargle for sore throats.

Description of the plant:



Plant:
Evergreen
Tree

Height:
15 m
(49 feet)

Flovering:
April
to May


Scent:
Scented
Tree

Habitat of the herb:

Found in a wide range of soils and climates and also in many different habitats. Grows in drier areas on high well-drained slopes usually in rich soils, occasionally on gravel.

Edible parts of Madrona:

Fruit - raw or cooked. A bland taste. Very sour according to another report. After boiling the fruit can be dried for later use. The fruit is about 15mm in diameter.

Other uses of the herb:

The inner bark was sometimes used by native North American Indians to make dresses. The leaves can be used to test the temperature of pitch that is being used to waterproof canoes. When the leaves turn black the pitch is ready to use. A brown dye is obtained from the bark, it does not need a mordant. Use in spring or summer. The bark is a rich source of tannin, it is used medicinally. The tannin is also used as a preservative on wood, ropes etc. Wood - very hard, brittle, durable in water, close grained, heavy, strong. The wood does not split when it dries and so has been used for carving. It is also sometimes used for making furniture, it also produces a fine grade of charcoal.

Propagation of Madrona:

Seed - best surface sown in a cold frame as soon as it is ripe. Stored seed should be soaked for 5 - 6 days in warm water and then surface sown in a shady position in a greenhouse. Do not allow the compost to become dry. 6 weeks cold stratification helps. The seed usually germinates well in 2 - 3 months at 20C. Seedlings are prone to damp off, they are best transplanted to individual pots as soon as they are large enough to handle and should be kept well ventilated. Grow them on in a greenhouse for their first winter and then plant out in late spring after the last expected frosts. Basal cuttings in late winter. Cuttings of mature wood of the current season's growth, November/December in a frame. Poor percentage. Layering of young wood - can take 2 years.

Cultivation of the herb:

Found in a wide range of soils and climates and also in many different habitats. Grows in drier areas on high well-drained slopes usually in rich soils, occasionally on gravel.

Known hazards of Arbutus menziesii:

None known

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.