THE MADRONE TREE
"It sounds better than Smith-Douglas Fir, Smith-Manzanita, Smith-Oak and certainly Smith-Poison Oak. These were the predominant trees and shrubs on the property when we began," Stuart Smith explains. "We had so much physically and emotionally invested in the development of the vineyard and the winery that we selfishly wanted our name on it. Smith is not exactly a grand Mediterranean wine name, and certainly we couldn't call it just "Smith Winery." Somehow Smith-Madrone had a nice ring to it..." He continued that the personality of the madrone figures into this as well: "The madrone tree never stands out alone in the forest; it's always clustered for shade and protection with others." Arbutus menziesii Pursh. can be a stately evergreen tree as large as 100 feet or low and shrubby stretching only as high as 40 feet. The madrone thrives in forests, and is easily recognizable because of its red-brown trunks, red branches and shiny evergreen foliage. In spring, the large clusters of flowers resemble lilies of the valley; brilliant orange-red berry-like fruit ripens late in fall and is not edible. The bark of old trees is scaly; on young trees the smooth red branches flake off in thin irregular pieces similar to sycamores. The exfoliated bark reveals a suede-smooth, highly polished trunk in bright shades of red, brown and green. The trunks often lean and twist back onto themselves. Madrones are long-lived; a tree with a 16-inch diameter could be 85 years old. The madrone is native to the coastal region of the west coast of North America, running from southern British Columbia and Washington to southern California. A member of the Ericaceae or heath (or heather) family, the madrone tree is distantly related to the huckleberry, blueberry, cranberry, manzanita, azalea and rhododendron. The family ericaceae contains nearly 70 genera, about 20 of which are found in the United States, and ten of which are trees. Madrone trees are also called madrona, Pacific madrona, laurelwood and Oregon laurel.