Arctostaphylos manzanita Parry
Whiteleaf manzanita, Big manzanita, Manzanita
Ericaceae (Heath Family)
USDA Symbol: ARMA
This manzanita is an erect, 6-12 ft., evergreen shrub, with long, crooked branches and smooth, dark, red-brown bark. Leaves are bright green and the inflorescences of white or pink, bell-shaped flowers are drooping. Berries are white at first, later becoming deep red. Large evergreen shrub, sometimes a small tree commonly branching near base, with stout, crooked, twisted trunks and branches and dense, rounded crown as broad as high.
Whether manzanitas should be considered trees is debatable; a few of the approximately 40 native shrubby species mainly in California (including this one) reach tree size. However, they generally branch or fork near the ground, thus lacking the single trunk of a tree. Manzanita is a Spanish word meaning little apple. The mealy berries are consumed in great quantities by wildlife of many kinds and were eaten by Indians, who also made them into manzanita cider. The dense evergreen foliage provides shelter for birds and small mammals; deer and goats browse the leaves and twigs. The handsome reddish-brown branches become twisted into odd shapes which are trimmed into collectors items called mountain driftwood.
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Plant CharacteristicsDuration: Perennial
Size Class: 6-12 ft.
Bloom InformationBloom Color: White , Pink
Bloom Time: Feb , Mar , Apr
Native Distribution: CA Coast Ranges & Sierra Nevada foothills
Native Habitat: Dry slopes & foothill canyons
Growing ConditionsWater Use: Low
Light Requirement: Part Shade
Soil Moisture: Dry
CaCO3 Tolerance: Medium
Soil Description: Dry soils.
Conditions Comments: A variable species, perhaps due to hybridization. Horticultural selections of this species are often available.
BenefitUse Food: Manzanita berries were used to make a refreshing, cider-like drink by indigenous peoples.
Use Other: Wood used today to make driftwood decorative pieces and by indigenous peoples to make fire drills.
Interesting Foliage: yes
Nectar Source: yes
Value to Beneficial InsectsSpecial Value to Native Bees
This information was provided by the Pollinator Program at The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation.
PropagationDescription: Propagation by seed is can be difficult.
Seed Collection: The outer fleshy part of the furit may be removed by macering the fruits with water and separating the nutlets by flotation or air-screening.
Seed Treatment: Seeds of most Arctostaphylos species have hard seed coats and dormant embryos. Scarification (several hours in H2SO4) followed by stratification may improve germination.
Commercially Avail: yes
BibliographyBibref 1218 - Tending the Wild: Native American Knowledge and the Management of California's Natural Resources (2006) Anderson, M. Kat
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Recommended Species Lists
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Additional resourcesUSDA: Find Arctostaphylos manzanita in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Arctostaphylos manzanita in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Arctostaphylos manzanita
MetadataRecord Modified: 2008-10-19
Research By: TWC Staff