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ARCTOSTAPHYLOS manzanita

Image of Arctostaphylos manzanita

Jesse Saylor

Family

Ericaceae

Botanical Name

ARCTOSTAPHYLOS manzanita

Plant Common Name

Manzanita

Special Notice

This entry has yet to be reviewed and approved by L2G editors.

General Description

This incredible native shrub is the hallmark of California’s most beautiful wildlands. It is without question one of the most drought resistant broadleaf shrubs of the West. Named from the Spanish for “little-apple” or manza-nita, this shrub or small tree is native to most of the north state mountains, but only on sites moderately sloping to near vertical. Since no rain may fall from spring to late fall, these shrubs are incredibly tolerant of dry conditions and will not abide supplemental watering. Their preference for higher locations is a means of ensuring dry roots in the wet season of Northern California which can be excessive.

Manzanita wood is exceptionally dense and oily, making it one of the most flammable fuels in the wildland. It is very slow growing and sheathed in a brick red skin that peels off periodically producing a reddish hue to the soil beneath. This red bark and twisted branches are coveted by artisans. The round to oval leaves are roughly the size of a quarter or slightly larger. They are stiff and contain so much oil they reflect any light source during wet winter nights. Manzanita leaves tend to hold themselves perpendicular to the sun during the hottest time of the day in summer.

In early spring manzanitas burst into bloom with hundreds of clusters of small, bell shaped pink flowers. These mature into pea sized red fruits that are astringent when mature and vital food for foxes and birds. The seed readily sprouts. These shrubs are not often seen in garden centers because they are difficult to cultivate in containers due to distortion of the roots and sensitivity to water. Buy only very small specimens in exceptionally deep pots, but even then they may never survive nor take on the extreme drought resistance of their wild siblings.

Characteristics

  • AHS Heat Zone

    9 - 8

  • USDA Hardiness Zone

    8 - 10

  • Sunset Zone

    4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24

  • Plant Type

    Shrub

  • Sun Exposure

    Full Sun

  • Height

    6'-20' / 1.8m - 6.1m

  • Width

    4'-10' / 1.2m - 3.0m

  • Bloom Time

    Early Spring

  • Native To

    California

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH

    Acidic, Neutral

  • Soil Drainage

    Well Drained

  • Soil type

    Clay, Loam, Sand

  • Tolerances

    Drought

  • Growth Rate

    Very Slow

  • Water Requirements

    Drought Tolerant

  • Habit

    Upright/Erect

  • Seasonal Interest

    Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest

    Showy

  • Flower Color

    Pink

  • Fruit Color

    Dark Red

  • Foliage Color (Spring)

    Blue Green

  • Foliage Color (Summer)

    Blue Green

  • Foliage Color (Fall)

    Blue Green

  • Foliage Color (Winter)

    Blue Green

  • Bark Color

    Dark Red

  • Fragrant Flowers

    Yes

  • Fragrant Fruit

    No

  • Fragrant Foliage

    No

  • Bark or Stem Fragrant

    No

  • Flower Petal Number

    Single

  • Repeat Bloomer

    No

  • Showy Fruit

    Yes

  • Edible Fruit

    Yes

  • Showy Foliage

    Yes

  • Foliage Texture

    Medium

  • Foliage Sheen

    Matte

  • Evergreen

    Yes

  • Showy Bark

    Yes

Special Characteristics

  • Bark Texture

    Smooth

  • Usage

    Feature Plant, Rock Garden / Wall

  • Sharp or Has Thorns

    No

  • Invasive

    No

  • Attracts

    Hummingbirds

  • Self-Sowing

    No