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This semi-regular e-newsletter celebrates all-things Pacific madrone, highlighting our conservation and restoration efforts while connecting tree researchers and enthusiasts along the way
Bret Harte

Madrono by Bret Harte

Francis Bret Harte (1836 – 1902) lived in California during the gold rush and wrote many stories and poems during this period. Here is his tribute to the majestic madrone:
Captain of the Western wood,
Thou that apest Robin Hood!
Green above thy scarlet hose,
How thy velvet mantle shows!
Never tree like thee arrayed,
O thou gallant of the glade!
…. read the rest here…


The Collective

Rooted in Puget Sound: Called to Action by the Trees that Inspire Us

Trees in our cities and towns provide many benefits– cleaning the water flowing into Puget Sound; purifying the air we breathe; beautifying our neighborhoods; and so much more.
We all play a part in stewarding our urban trees – take action with us. Through the Rooted in Puget Sound campaign (, you can connect with volunteer opportunities, learn about all the benefits these trees provide, and access resources for caring for the trees in your yard.
Fire Ecology
Fire has traditionally been a part of madrone ecosystems. Low intensity fires that returned every few years would burn old, dry debris and diseased vegetation and cause relatively little damage to healthy parts of the forest. While fire may kill the think-barked top of the trees, madrone has the amazing superpower of regrowing by sprouts emerging from dormant buds in the lignotuber at the base of the tree. In this way, madrone provide an important biological legacy that can jumpstart the renewal of a forest after disturbance. However, with fire suppression, older trees and dense stands of madrone may be more susceptible to decline from pathogens, particularly in urban areas. Older diseased trees in the ecosystem may very help to spread pathogens to healthy trees. One can often see blackened cankers on older trees that resemble fire damage, and trees may even resprout from the burl in an effort to regenerate from aboveground damage. Read more about madrone and fire in Chappell and Giglio (1999). Pacific madrone forests of the Puget Trough, Washington.
TreeSnap Update
More data is rolling in! Since Pacific madrone went up on TreeSnap in late 2018 forty people have submitted 242 observations! Just over half the trees we submit as observations show less than 10% disease damage to the tree crown. Still, be on the look out for wilting leaves, leaf spots, blight and other signs of defoliation. In Kirkland, WA, Green Kirkland Partnership is snapping trees all over their city. Then, we have observations coming in from Salem, OR and the tree pictured above is from Cap Sante Park around Padilla Bay, Anacortes.

We encourage people to visit areas and snap trees at the edges of the range. Moving forward, we really need data from British Columbia, Oregon, Central/Southern California to build a more precise range map for the species. Also remember to leave comments about things like flowering and leaf blight – both can be seen now. You can see the current observations here: 

Disease of the month: Botryosphaeria canker
Summer is the time when madrones (and other trees) are under stress from lack of water, particularly during drought years. Symptoms caused by infection from canker fungi become apparent. These fungi are in the family Botyrosphaeriaceae, which contains several species that attack madrones. Two major types are the most common:

1. Branch dieback and canker that looks “burned”, with attached foliage that is silvery or grey in color (Botryosphaeria/Fusicoccum spp.)
2. Larger stem cankers with callused edge, usually at the base of the tree or larger branches (Neofusicoccum arbuti).

The first type is on branches that have died previously, this fungus is opportunistic and takes out branches and shoots that could be stressed by a canker further down or from root damage. We will discuss the second, Neofusicoccum canker, in a later newsletter.

When Botryosphaeria dieback occurs in the upper branches of the tree, these branches are killed and do not produce new foliage. This in turn creates more stress for the tree as it has fewer reserves from which to draw for new growth. Madrones with extensive branch dieback will go into a decline spiral and will eventually starve to death since there is less foliage to produce sugars that will be converted to starch and used for growth and defense. In addition to foliage, the branches do not produce flowers or fruit for regeneration from seed. The fungi that cause branch dieback and canker are not new, but they become aggressive and cause symptoms under drought conditions.

How to identify Botryosphaeria dieback and canker

Upcoming Events!
Arbutus ARME has been invited to speak at the next Sound Waters University in February 2020. More info to come. In the meantime, find out more about this annual Whidbey Island event at
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