Although drought tolerant and relatively fast growing, the Pacific Madrone is currently declining throughout most of its range. One likely cause is fire control: under natural conditions, the madrone depends on intermittent naturally occurring fires to reduce the conifer overstory.To me, it's an odd looking tree. It doesn't look much like the other trees around it. Anyway, we found several of them on the Madrone viewpoint. We first hiked over to the Chuckanut Ridge to have a nice place for lunch, which incidentally lengthened the trip by a couple of miles.
It is a broadleaf evergreen tree with rich orange-red bark that peels away on the mature wood, leaving a greenish, silvery appearance that has a satin sheen and smoothness. The exposed wood sometimes feels cool to the touch. In spring, it bears sprays of small bell-like flowers, and in autumn, red berries. The berries dry up and have hooked barbs that latch onto larger animals for migration.
It was very cold today, and when we started out the temperature was no more than 20 deg F (-7 C) and the day showed clouds for the first time in several days. The temperature inversion that has been in place for a week, causing the air quality to decrease, is beginning to break down, and snow is forecast in the near future, maybe as early as tomorrow. As you can imagine, we didn't spend lots of time sitting around basking in the nonexistent sun during our lunch break, so we ended up hiking up about 1,500 feet in elevation in a little more than 9 miles round trip. Another good day of exercise, with great friends. Here's the view of Mt. Baker from Madrone Crest: