The Arbutus tree is found in only a few locations around the world, including the Pacific Northwest.
The Salish First Nations honour the tree as the 'Tree of Knowledge' because it knows how to find the sun. The trees often have unusual shapes and angles, growing horizontally at times to catch as much sunlight as possible, in the rocky mountainous terrain that they grow in.
It is a distinctive tree because of some unusual characteristics. Firstly, it is the only decidous tree to grow in this area that remains evergreen. Although its leaves turn yellow and brown and fall off in the autumn, they are immediately replaced by new young leaves that are fully grown by winter, and thus the trees are never 'bare'.
Another unusual feature of these trees is the bark. It is incredibly smooth to touch, and almost looks like moulded plastic. Each year in the summer the tree sheds its bark to reveal a new yellow-green bark, which turns red-brown again the following winter.
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