photo by Lotus Johnson CC BY-NC


Arbutus has thin, smooth, reddish-brown bark that peels to reveal younger bark underneath. The crooked or leaning trunks split into numerous twisted branches with oval, leathery leaves that stay on the tree all year round. Leaves from the previous year turn reddish-orange and start to fall once the new leaves are fully grown. The tree can grow to a height of 100 ft.

Found along the west coast from British Columbia's Lower Mainland to Mexico, Arbutus grows best in dry regions with rocky or rapidly drained soils.

Clusters of small, bell-shaped white flowers droop from the end of stems in April/May. They smell strongly of honey, making them very attractive to bees. The berries are rough-skinned and reddish-orange and an important food for various birds and small mammals.

Did you know? Arbutus usually only grows within 5 miles of the ocean and is often found on exposed rocky bluffs.