Twin Lights Lighthouse

NJ Highlands: Twin Lights lighthouse (I didn’t have time for a tour, sadly, but maybe I’ll get back there someday). Me and Alex on a hike. And refrigerator tree, Susan Lee called this — the tree feels cool to the touch, very weird. Aka Madrone Tree (Arbutus menziesii).

“In June and July, Madrones shed all of their bark. The deep red gives way to an exceptionally smooth green trunk. If you place your hand where the bark has peeled, the tree feels downright cold. Not icy cold, but cool enough to refresh an overheated hiker. This has earned the Madrone the nickname, “Refrigerator Tree.” During the hikes I lead, I joke that if you want to cool down in a hurry, you should hug this tree.

I have heard two explanations for its remarkable frigidity. Both may have an element of truth. The first is that the tree stores so much water that its temperature is cooler than the air around it. A second explanation is that it is not cooler than any other type of tree. But the Madrone’s smooth naked trunk has much more surface area than a tree with bark. When you place your hand against the tree, the trunk acts like a giant heat sink. It conducts heat away from your palms at a rapid rate.” —

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