There are probably few trees (with the possible exception of the Douglas fir) that are more strongly identified with Southern Oregon than the Pacific Madrone (Arbutus menziesii). This tree is native to the western coast of North America between British Columbia and California, but is mainly found around Puget Sound and in the Oregon and California Coast Ranges. They are also scattered on the western slopes of the Sierra Nevada and Cascades. Their bark continuously peels off in large, thin sheets and patches to reveal an attractive, satiny green surface that darkens with time to a distinctive cinnamon red and then to a deep red. Bark on younger stems may range in color from green to chartreuse, while that on young trunks is frequently orange. Older portions of the bark become dark, brownish-red, and fissured. New branches, other eruptions, and naturally-occurring damage often texture the bark’s otherwise smooth surface. All of this botanical action generates a seemingly infinite variety of abstract images in and on the bark. We find these images endlessly fascinating and often get distracted by them when hiking through madrones. Here is one set of these images – perhaps they’ll distract you too?