Friday, March 4, 2016

Native Plant Profile: Montara Manzanita

Montara Manzanita (Arctostaphylos montaraensis)
I snapped this picture along the Montara Mountain North Peak trail last week. This majestic manzanita can only be found in the wild on Montara and San Bruno mountains, generally between 500 and 1500ft elevation.  It can be quite tall (up to 15ft) on protected slopes,  or very short (<2ft) on exposed granite outcrops*. Blooms are whitish/pink and held in dense clusters during the winter months.

Montara manzanita blanket a south facing slope on Montara mountain, Montara beach in the distance

This is one of my favorite manzanitas because (a) it's local and (b) the bright green clasping green leaves are striking to me.  I wanted to grow this shrub in my garden but it's almost impossible to find at native nurseries. A few years back my sister picked me up a one gallon plant from Central Coast Wilds in Santa Cruz. It lived in a wine barrel for a couple years, happily, and then was transplanted into the front yard this past Fall. I'm curious to see how it fares away from the coast in loamy/clay soil.

My own personal Montara manzanita
* Source: Field Guide to Manzanitas by Kauffman, Parker and Vasey

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