About the time we realized we might have missed the first turn to the lake, Ragna spotted this tree.
Yes, I brake for Madrone trees.
Ragna remembers "about 20 years ago when the new Hwy 16 was being built an amazing number of Madrone trees, maybe 10 or so, were exposed when the brush and trees were cleared for the new road."
This appears to be the only one remaining on this stretch of road. The Madrone tree grows only in limited pockets of the Texas Hill Country and West Texas. It also grows in northern Mexico, New Mexico, and California.
This must be one of the taller Madrone trees in this area. The Madrone is typically a small tree, but this one is very large. My guess is well over 20 ft, possibly closer to 25 ft, and according to the Madrone description on the Bear Springs Blossom nature preserve website it takes about 100 years for a Madrone to grow to that height.
Peeling bark is normal and attractive, and sheds as the trunk expands
The resulting smooth trunk is a beautiful mix of peach, tan, terracotta mottling.
The branches have a distinctive wavy pattern and are quite striking against the sky.
Beautiful shadow patterns across the trunks
The blooms appeared to be just past peak, it will produce red fruit in the fall.
The west (or left) side of the tree has died, possibly due to the recent drought. The east side looks to be in good shape.
While these trees are rare out in the open like this one, there are other Madrone trees in parks and preserves around the Bandera area.
To the drivers who pass this way daily, a rarer sight might be two ladies on the side of the road inspecting this special tree.