Friday, January 17, 2014

Enchanted hunters on Madrone Forest, near Mt. Tamalpais, Marin

Twisted Madrone above Phoenix Lake
I have read that there are people who hate madrones because they shed bark and leaves and make a mess. You would have to be a pretty strange person not to love this gorgeous broadleaf evergreen. I have admired the rather smaller European Arbutus in the wild and in gardens, and have seen a few specimens of the Texas species (which we are actually growing in Denver). But ever since my childhood when I first saw the Pacific madrone (or madrona as they call it further north), I've been in love. Early in January Jan and I spent ten days in California (talks, nursery and botanic garden visits and a wonderful hike while visiting with Robin and Bill Parer in Kentfield. Bill asked if we wanted to join him on a walk to see the Madrone Forest above Phoenix Lake near Kentfield (on a sort of spur of Tamalpais State Park. We jumped at the chance!

Meadows are unusually brown for January: driest year in Bay Area history
Rather than belabor and besmirch the walk with too much chat, I'll just share some pix and a few brief comments. A simple walk, a few hours..and I shall remember it forever. Every stroll I'm made on Mt. Tam over the years has been like that: what a splendid place (even on this dreadfully dry winter)...

Lichen encrusted oak

More crusty lichens!

Ballet corps of Madrones (notice the monster on the right)

Here the Madrones are doing some yoga (sun salutations?)

Our host, Bill Parer tying his shoes, and James, Queensland Heeler

Some big madrones and a redwood

Photographed this to post on "Plantporn" on Facebook: there's something sensual about that bark!

This one is putting on a jacket of coarser bark...

James, at your service

The forest goes on and on

And on: I love that strange orange pink color!

No human has skin quite that color, and yet they suggest naked bodies...

Did I mention that I like madrones?

A young

Every so often the scene changes--here they have mostly coarse bark.

The bark on Pacific Myrtle is altogether distinct.

Not nearly as common here, the Umbellularia managed the scent the whole path with its sweet Bay fragrance.

Further along...

Another one for the Pornies!

It was hard to tear myself away...

Bill alongside a brightly colored youngster

A closer view of Bill Parer, and the bending tree

We bid the forest adieu

Moss densely clothing a tree

Back to civilization--albeit just an old ranger station with a wonderful lichened fence


  1. This post is DIVINE
    and I bow down to those trees!
    Beautifully captured, Maestro & I'm still hootin' at the porn ;>D

    p.s. sure wish either one of my dawgs would be that well behaved on the trail. sigh.

  2. You are Sweet as your avatar implies. You must have them on your enchanted isle: we'll be near you in a few weeks (visiting the flower show). Very curious about your upcoming travels..James is a real trooper--he led the way!

  3. Thanks for the trip. I loves these trees, how is the one from Texas doing after the cold blast?

  4. Thanks for the trip Panayoti, I didn't know these trees, are spectacular! and yeah!! very sensual... have a whimsical structure.

  5. The Texas madrones are holding up great, Aaron. You should be able to grow the Pacific Madrone perfectly in Spain, Yolanda! It is beautiful (and can get very big!)

    1. So, I'll have to look! They are really beautiful, they remind me oaks, here sometimes with whimsical shapes and molded by the wind.


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