Pacific Madrone Firewood – Arbutus menziesii

Madrone firewood burns long and hot and produces less ash than many other hardwoods. As firewood for home heating, it is considered one of the best woods available on the west coast, where it grows from California into Oregon, Washington and British Columbia. Madrone wood produces smoke that has a nice flavor, making it a good wood for cooking, grilling and smoking foods.

Pacific madrone, sometimes spelled madrona, is a broadleaf evergreen tree with waxy, shiny green leaves and smooth bark that can range from green or reddish. In mid to late summer, the outer layers of the bark curl up into almost paper thin layers and shed from the trees. At around the same time the older leaves turn yellow and shed, after the newer leaves that sprouted in the spring have already grown to maturity.

Madrone trees, like a lot of hardwoods, will quickly sprout back from the stump after a tree is cut down and the sprouts can rapidly grow into new trees. This quick regeneration makes madrone trees very renewable. This also allows madrone to quickly regenerate after a wildfire. Madrone trees grow in areas that are prone to wildfire and their thin bark does little to protect them, so they are easily killed by fire. However, the part of the tree and roots underground are protected from the heat by the soil and will quickly start growing new sprouts after the tree above the ground is killed.

In the spring, madrone trees bloom with small white blossoms that will often be surrounded by the buzzing sound of bees and a sweet honey-like fragrance. By the end of summer, the tree tops can be covered in red berries that are a valuable food for wildlife, especially birds and bears. I have seen madrone trees with branches broken out and the bark ripped to shreds by bear claws from bears climbing the trees to get the madrone berries. Madrone berries are also edible to humans and were a source of food for Native Americans. In my opinion, madrone berries are not very tasty, this is probably why you don’t find them in the berry section of the grocery store.

Madrone wood makes beautiful lumber that is hard and durable, which makes it ideal for flooring. Madrone burls are also prized for their beauty from their unique colors and grain patterns. Madrone, like a lot of western hardwoods, can be difficult to cure since the wood warps and cracks as it dries. Although the wood has some very desirable properties, lumber production from madrone lumber is still not widely produced.

Madrone Firewood BTU Ratings

Green Madrone Firewood
Green Madrone Firewood
Madrone Foliage
Madrone Foliage

Share your experience with madrone firewood in the comment section below.

9 thoughts on “Madrone”

  1. madrone is an evergreen, its best to have it split as soon as cut,yes it does dry faster,note the wieght of the wood itself very heavy. this wood burns with flames for twenty minutes or so then flames out and embers apear like coal burnning,this burns a long time three pieces before bed and you will still have a fire at night, and even though they have it listed as a hardwood its under the evergreen family thats not hardwoods

  2. I love turning Madrone. Very smooth and easy to cut, however extremely hard to dry without having it split. Turning blanks immedeitly after cutting a tree seems to work out but just cutting a tree and stacking it as firewood will result in many splits. In southern Oregon there is also a major problem with beetle tunnels throughout the wood if it is left it dry outside.

  3. Does anyone know were I can get Madrone firewood in Southern California? I’m on the LA OC border and would drive a reasonable distance to get some of this wonderful wood for my fireplace. Thanks for any help you may offer.

  4. It might be the way I sharpen, but I remember it dulled chainsaw blades quickly. Burned like coal though. A great wood to put in right before bed.

  5. It is interesting that it is such a useful firewood as there are two differing stories among the First Nations of the area that both forbid (well one does, the other just does not recommend) the burning of this wood. I guess because most of the stories and legends are rooted in true ecological science I just assumed it would make terrible fire wood. Interesting to see that it is almost the exact opposite. I wonder though, does it leave weird films inside flues? Is it just far more tedious to collect and process compared to other woods? Is it far more useful alive, thus rendering it into firewood is irresponsible (assuming you are living on the land)? There is obviously a reason it has been forbidden, I just wonder if any of it is rooted in practicality.
    Regardless, interesting read and very illuminating.

  6. Looking for 4 ten foot tall madrone tree sections to use as support/cornerposts, for a gazebo. Some curve and bend would be desireable for style.

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