3 - 12
- Cultivation: Low-Maintenance
- Light: Sun, Dappled, Part-Shade
- Soil: Mid-Fertility, Poor, Clay, Sand, Rock
- pH: 6, 7
- Moisture: Wet, Medium, Dry, Well-Drained
- Form: Tree, Shrub, Groundcover
- Habit: Evergreen
- Flower: Small, Pink, White
- Fruit/Seed: Small, Berry, Red
- Foliage: Leaves, Green, Silver
- Uses: Edible, Medicinal, Ornamental, Craft
Arctostaphylos (arkto bear + staphyle grape) is a genus of plants comprised by the manzanitas and bearberries. They are Shrubs or small Trees.
There are about 60 species of Arctostaphylos, ranging from ground-hugging arctic, coastal, and mountain species to small trees up to 6 m tall. Most are Evergreen (one species Deciduous), with small oval Leaves 1-7 cm long, arranged spirally on the stems. The flowers are bell-shaped, white or pale pink, and borne in small clusters of 2-20 together; flowering is in the spring. The fruit are small berries, ripening in the summer or autumn. The berries of some species are edible.
The leaves have long been used as a tonic and diuretic, useful in the treatment of kidney and balldder ailments. In parts of North America, both settlers and indigenous people smoked the leaves, either alone or mixed with tobacco.
Arctostaphylos species are used as food plants by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species including Coleophora arctostaphyli (which feeds exclusively on A. uva-ursi) and Coleophora glaucella.
Popular Cultivated Species
Kinickinnik Arctostaphylos uva-ursi
Bearberry Arctostaphylos alpina
Manzanita Arctostaphylos viscida
Manzanitas, the bulk of Arctostaphylos spp., are present in the chaparral biome of western North America, where they occur from southern British Columbia in Canada, Washington to California and New Mexico in the United States, and throughout much of northern and central Mexico.
Three species, the bearberries, Arctostaphylos alpina (Alpine Bearberry), Arctostaphylos rubra (Red Bearberry) and Arctostaphylos uva-ursi (Common Bearberry), have adapted to arctic and subarctic climates, and have a circumpolar distribution in northern North America, Asia and Europe.
An unusual association of Manzanita occurs on Hood Mountain, in Sonoma County, California, where stands of pygmy forest dominated by Mendocino Cypress are found.
Cultivation is generally difficult due to fungal diseases, and often salinity and alkalinity. Overhead watering should be avoided in hot weather. Some cultivars are easier to grow.
- Hickman, James C. (1993). The Jepson Manual: higher plants of California, University of California Press, Berkeley and Los Angeles, California. ISBN 0-520-08255-9.
- Wells, Philip V. (2000). Manzanitas of California, Dept. of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, Lawrence, Kansas. ISBN 0-933994-22-2.
- Wells, Philip V. 1992. Subgenera and sections of Arctostaphylos. The Four Seasons 9: 64-69.