Molting Dry Madrona Forest

Tis the season for all of us to shed our summer dryness. It has been so hot and dry here in the Pacific Northwest with a new record of days with no rain. I have lost count since we blazed through the old 1951 record.

Last night we had a little drizzle that broke our streak but it made no dent in the dryness of the forest or the wildlife’s suffering.

Back in 2011 I wrote an article about molting birds and madrona trees.  I am always surprised by how popular this post is. Currently it is the most read with almost 2,500 hits. I have poked around and found it is a search for molting trees that brings folks in.

This tree molting is a fascinating sight. Walking down the trail to the beach through the madrona forest the ground is littered with paper like bark.  My boot in the picture below gives us perspective on how big the pieces are.

Bark on trail shed by madrona trees

It is nearly pure white on the back with a warm mahogany brown on the outer side.

Paper like madrona bark

These trees are looking rather messy. They like the birds have a shabby look. If one was not aware of this molting they might think they are dying.

Frumpy looking madrona tree near Seattle

It isn’t just their bark they shed but also their dead or older leaves fall at this time of year. They are an evergreen tree but leaves last only so long. This late summer period is their season of rejuvenation. As the season gets hot they shed away the old to conserve energy.

Madrona surrounded by his pile of old leaves and bark

The finale is how spectacular the exposed underneath is a smooth shiny green.  Do you want to reach out and touch it? It is so smooth and almost soft. A thrill for the rambling hiker!

Sheets of peeling bark and smooth green newness

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