Arbutus trees in Nanaimo

Arbutus tree at corner of Mostar and Island Hwy
Arbutus tree at corner of Mostar and Island Hwy

Arbutus trees are expected to become extinct in approximately 15 years in many coastal areas. The change in weather patterns and new tropical fungi are accelerating the decline of arbutus trees.

Archibald Menzies, naturalist on Captain Vancouver’s 1792 voyage to the Pacific Northwest, made the first botanical description. In his honour, the tree was given the scientific name Arbutus Menziesii. The arbutus tree is Canada’s only broad-leafed evergreen, found in areas of the Strait of Georgia at lower elevations.

Since that time, arbutus trees have been painted, photographed and used to promote the natural beauty of Vancouver Island. They are a unique tree and one that is disappearing fast.

It is ironic that at a time when arbutus trees are on the verge of extinction in coastal BC, there is no protection.

Near the corner of the Island Highway and Mostar there is an arbutus beside the Remax sign. This arbutus is surrounded by green grass which is not good; tree root development is reduced by grass competition. Also, if herbicides are applied to lawns this is lethal for arbutus trees.  These stresses cause arbutus to be more susceptible to fungus and insects.