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Pointleaf Manzanita (Arctostaphylos pungens)
Shrubs Around Las Vegas, Vegetation Around Las Vegas
Manzanita (Arctostaphylos spp.)

General: Pointleaf Manzanita (Arctostaphylos pungens) usually is a knee- to thigh-high spreading shrub, with stiff branches, red bark, and bright-green oval leaves that often are orientated vertically. Manzanita usually forms thickets on hillsides. The flowers are small and obscure, but the little red fruits are obvious and resemble little apples. There are five species of manzanita in Nevada, but only one in Red Rock Canyon NCA and the Spring Mountains.

Pointleaf Manzanita is a common component of higher-elevation shrub and tree communities on open slopes and rocky hillsides in the Upper Sonoran (Mojave Desert Scrub and Pinyon-Juniper Woodland), Transition (Yellow Pine Forest), and Canadian (Pine-Fir Forest) life zones.

Manzanita (Arctostaphylos spp.)

Family: Heath (Ericaceae).

Other Names: The name "manzanita" is Spanish for little apple, and the genus name, Arctostaphylos, is Greek for bear berries, both of which refer to the fruits.

Plant Form: Spreading perennial shrub, generally circular in shape, usually to 6-feet across and 3-feet high. Forms low, dense thickets.

Height: Usually to about 3 feet at lower elevations, but only to the average minimum snow depth at higher elevations (snow covers and protects stem tips from the bitter winds and cold of winter).

Manzanita (Arctostaphylos spp.)

Bark: red, peeling.

Stems: Stout; some erect, others spreading; emerge from fire-resistant burl at the base.

Leaves: Oval, bright green, shiny, and smooth. Petiole 1/4 to 1/2 inch; leaf blade 1-2 inches long. Leaves alternate, evergreen; blade surfaces alike; margin entire and flat.

Flowers: Inflorescence open. Flower urn-shaped with a small, 5-lobed corolla, white to pink.

Manzanita (Arctostaphylos spp.)

Seeds: Fruit resembles a little apple to 1/3-inch diameter; green, ripening to red.

Habitat: Dry, well-drained sandy, gravelly, and rocky soils from the upper-most bajadas into the higher mountains. Open rocky places in forests.

Elevation: 2,500 to 11,000 feet.

Distribution: Various species throughout the western and northern U.S., mostly in California; about five species in Nevada.

Comments: Manzanita is a fire-resistant species that grows where fires are frequent. The leaves and stems burn hot and fast, but the root mass (burl) survives to produce new stems.

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Note: All distances, elevations, and other facts are approximate. Names generally follow the USDA database.
© 2014 Jim Boone; Last updated 090606

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