by Bob Harms ()

Restoration of Texas Madrones (Arbutus xalapensis)
at Purola Preserve (c. 50 Acres)
Hays County, Texas

About 300 madrones were germinated from seed in 1977 (plus a few in 1978), in containers. When these produced the first true leaves they were moved into very small pots. Only some 60 survived, and were then put into the ground in a wide variety of sites in the valley along Deadman's Creek. Roughly half disappeared over night, and only about a dozen made it through the hot and dry summer that followed. After one year 7 plants were still alive, and doing well. Later two young trees that were in heavy clay suddenly died — one of these had even bloomed. [Apparent COD: root damage caused by expansion and contraction of the clay.]

Of the remaining 5 plants, 4 have bloomed and produced fruits — but one, in full sun and in relatively sandy soil, grew very fast and was a source of berries (and seeds) within only 7 years. This tree has been the source, directly or through mature offspring, of many new volunteer madrones on the preserve. In 2008 eleven madrones have bloomed, creating new sources for seeds, distributed by birds and small mammals, primarily in juniper groves on the west side of the valley. The total number of madrones, all sizes, exceeds 500.

In July 2008 I decided to do a GPS census of madrones with at least 3 feet of growth, with a photo of each plant (or group of plants). Over 225 plants of this size were photographed and gps coordinates noted, a total of 202 gps points (22 with more than one plant). This survey has been plotted as an overlay on Google Earth (using kml encoding), and a Google Maps version of this is given below. Clicking on any icon will generate a window with a picture of the madrone(s) at that point, a short comment and the coordinates of the point. Three types of icons represent the status of the plants:

Original 1977 (1978) 5 Madrones
Volunteer Madrones that have bloomed
Volunteer Madrones with at least 3 feet of growth
     that have not yet bloomed

But Google Maps does not permit sizing or exact placing of icons. For a much better view, download the following kmz file, and open it in the Google Earth application:

Download Google Earth kmz formatted presentation of Texas Madrones at Purola Preserve

Please zoom to the maximum level to obtain better separation of the icons representing individual madrones. Even so, the result will not be comparable to the source kmz file noted above.


View Restoration of Texas Madrones in a larger map



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