Manzanita Madness

As I continue with my “Chaparral Plant Portraits” project I’m facing some riddles as to how I’m going to group the photos… unlike Laurel Sumac (Malosma laurina), which is the only plant species in its genus, many other plants have sub-species that are not easy to keep apart, and the Manzanitas are one such example…

To begin with, Manzanitas itself are tricky to photograph because they’re so gnarly and twisted and chaotic – getting up close with a wide angle lens seems like a good idea… I’m quite happy with how this photo turned out, it captures the “essence” of (one of the many qualities of) Manzanita nicely:

Manzanita (Arctostaphylos) -- Manchester Preserve, Encinitas, California, United States
Manzanita (Arctostaphylos) — Manchester Preserve, Encinitas, CA. June 2015.

After one of my fellow Chaparralian students took us on a walk at Manchester Preserve in Encinitas last Saturday to show us the rare Del Mar Manzanita (Arctostaphylos glandulosa crassifolia), I went back this morning to make photos of it in more pleasing, overcast conditions (Toni, now promoted to chaparral canine, came along too). And I saw this this beautiful, big specimen and it’s not the typical growth-form of Del Mar Manzanita as far as I can tell (the entire tree was probably 3-4 meters tall)…

But the only Manzanita that I can easily identify right now is the Mission Manzanita – because it is the only species in the Xylococcus genus. :) The rest of them are all Arctostaphylos, and there’s plenty of them! What have I gotten myself into? I guess there’s too many different Manzanita’s around here to justify having a gallery for each of them. I think for now I’ll go for a Xylococcus and an Arctostaphylos gallery, and then I’ll try my best to find out which Arctostaphylos it is… thoughts?!

UPDATE: this has indeed been identified as a Del Mar Manzanita now, which is quite incredible, because it is huge.

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9 Responses

  1. It looks like you have your work cut out for you! :) This species’ bark reminds me a lot of the Arbutus trees (Arbutus menziesii) on the coast here. Any biological reason/purpose you know of for the peeling bark?

    1. So I asked and the answer is: “It is so thin that basically it splits and comes off as the trunk grows in the spring. The cambium is right at the surface, so really the bark isn’t much of a bark anyway.”

  2. Sounds like an embarrassment of riches. :)
    I’m very fond of Manzanitas. Someone once told me that the Native Americans would cool themselves by hugging them on very hot days, because they are always cool. I have found that to be true (the coolness). Maybe that’s where “tree hugging” comes from. :P

    1. I always run my hands over all kinds of plants. Their textures are often helpful in identifying them. And running the hands over California Sagebrush is especially rewarding, because it smells so good. :)

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