Manzanita is one of the most common chaparral plants of lower-elevation mountainous areas. From far away, it is a pale green mass which impenetrably covers the hot hillsides. Up close, it is shown to be a beautiful plant. The leaves are waxy and thick, and sometimes rounded like poker chips, sometimes enlongated. The fruits look like small apples, thus the name 'manzanita'. The bark is the most stunning part of this plant; it is smooth, shiny orange-red, peeling off to reveal a tan brown beneath. The bark peels off in long, sinuous patterns, and often the red parts of the twisted branches look almost like muscles. They are usually large shrubs, but i have seen them at least 20 feet tall in favored areas.

it is almost impossible to get through a hillside covered in manzanita. You would have to crawl through your hands and knees, or slash through with a machete. This plant isn't as thorny as many chaparral plants, but it is very stiff and scratchy to climb through. This plant is quite stunning in the landscape and it's too bad more people aren't planting it in their home gardens.

Man`za*ni"ta (?), n. [Sp., dim. of munzana an apple.] Bot.

A name given to several species of Arctostaphylos, but mostly to A. glauca and A. pungens, shrubs of California, Oregon, etc., with reddish smooth bark, ovate or oval coriaceous evergreen leaves, and bearing clusters of red berries, which are said to be a favorite food of the grizzly bear.

 

© Webster 1913.

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