Shrubby manzanitas develop sculptural stems with shiny cinnamon brown bark.

There are more than a hundred specie of Manzanita, Arctostaphylos spp., that range in size and form from creeping ground covers to small trees that can get almost twenty feet tall. (They are more commonly known by their cultivar names than by their specie names.) Arctostaphylos ‘Emerald Carpet’ is as the name implies a nice low groundcover for dry slopes. Arctostaphylos ‘Doctor Hurd’ is a shrubby small tree that is often pruned to expose strikingly sculptural trunks that are as smooth and rich brown as a chestnut.

Abundant trusses of tiny ‘urn’ shaped flowers bloom about now. Almost all are pale white. A few are pale pink. The subsequent red berries typically get eaten by birds before anyone else sees them. The evergreen foliage is quite dense. Individual leaves are rather small and disproportionately thick.

Manzanita should be planted while small, because larger plants are more susceptible to rot. New plants want to be watered to prevent desiccation until they disperse their roots. If planted in autumn, they get enough water from rain through winter (typically), so that they only want occasional watering through the following spring and summer. Once established, they do not want much water at all, and can be damaged by fertilizer. The happiest plants are satisfied with what they get from rain after they get established.

2 thoughts on “Manzanita

  1. That’s so interesting. We have a ground cover arctostaphyllos here that goes by the common names of bearberry (you can guess why) or kinnickkinnick. I have it myself. And just like your plants, we rarely get to see the berries, although in my yard, I think squirrels or chipmunks rather than bear are getting them.

    Karla

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, I remember that one. I have never actually seen it, but have read about it. At the time, it seemed strange to me that there were manzanitas so far from the West Coast of California.

      Like

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