Texas madrone
Arbutus xalapensis

Secondary Names:

Leaf Type: Evergreen
Texas Native:
Tree Description:

A striking small tree to 30 feet, often with twisted, multiple trunks up to 12" in diameter and a broad, rounded crown.

Range/Site Description:

Reaches its largest size in the high elevations of the Trans-Pecos mountains, preferring protected canyons and mountain slopes. Also occurs in the Edwards Plateau, east to Travis County.


Simple, and alternate, 2" to 5" long, oval, leathery and evergreen, leaf edge smooth, medium green on top and lighter beneath, with a prominent midrib.


Four-inch clusters of pendant, bell-shaped, whitish flowers appear above the leaves in spring. Similar in appearance to other ericaceous plants like blueberries.


Bright red-orange "berries," 0.25" to 0.33" in diameter appear in clusters against the foliage in late fall. Favored by wildlife and edible by humans.


Bone-white and smooth when young, turning shades of pink, red, and brown and becoming scaly with age; each year, the older bark peels away in strips and patches to reveal the lighter bark beneath.


The wood is hard, strong and has been used for tool handles and to make charcoal for gunpowder. Bark and roots yield orange, red, and brown dyes. Leaves can yield an astringent.

Similar Species:

Sweetbay magnolia (Magnolia virginiana) occurs only in the forests of East Texas.

Interesting Facts:

New seedlings require the protection of a "nurse" tree to become established.

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