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An evergreen which sheds its bark in thin sheets. It is common to see madronas of about 10 to 25 metres (33 to 82 ft) in height, but with the right conditions trees may reach up to 30 metres (98 ft). In ideal conditions madronas can also reach a thickness of 5 to 8 feet (1.5 to 2.4 m) at the trunk, much like an oak tree. Leaves are thick with a waxy texture.
Spotted growing out of the hillside next to the beach at Priest Point Park. This is common around Puget Sound - the root system of these trees are extremely strong allowing the tree to seemingly defy gravity and hang over hillsides. These trees provide great habitat and food (berries) for many species of birds.
Native Americans ate the berries, but because the berries have a high tannin content and are thus astringent, they more often chewed them or made them into a cider. They also used the berries to make necklaces and other decorations, and as bait for fishing. Bark and leaves were used to treat stomachaches, cramps, skin ailments, and sore throats. The bark was often made into a tea to be drunk for these medicinal purposes. The wood is durable and has a warm color after finishing, so it has become more popular as a flooring material, especially in the Pacific Northwest. An attractive veneer can also be made from the wood. Madrone is burned for firewood though, since it is a very hard and dense wood that burns long and hot, surpassing even oak in this regard.