This large shrub can be easily identified by its scraggly outline and dark red bark. The leaves are light green or bluish-green and have a hairy surface as the plant’s common name suggests. The manzanita is found throughout the coastal areas of California and the Pacific Northwest. It frequently grows alongside Evergreen Huckleberry, Salal, Pacific Madrone, Oregon Grape and Vine Maple. During the spring and summer, it will produce tiny urn-shaped flowers which are typically white or light pink in color.
The name is Spanish and means “little apple,” a reference to the red, flattened fruit it produces in the spring. These “little apples” are eaten by a variety of animals including Black Bear, Black-tailed Deer and Coyotes. Consumption of the fruit by animals actually starts the seed’s germination process.
Native Americans collected the fruit and other parts of the plant. The bark and leaves could be boiled to create a remedy for diarrhea and an astringent for cleaning the skin, respectively.
A hardy plant capable of adapting to a wide variety of conditions, the Hairy Manzanita often colonizes areas where the soil has been disturbed. It is most commonly found on rocky mountain slopes, in sandy environments such as coastal dunes and in areas where the soil has a high acid level. It is particularly abundant in the coastal mountain ranges of California, Oregon and Washington. Its northernmost range is British Columbia, Canada.