This is a plant that is at its best in tough environments–as long as it has good drainage! Commonly known as hairy manzanita, Arctostaphylos columbiana is found along the Coast–Cascade Ranges from Sonoma County, California, north to Vancouver Island and southwest coastal mainland British Columbia, with the largest population in southwestern Oregon. It is found primarily in evergreen forests and requires fire to break seed dormancy and maximize germination.
Hairy manzanita hybridizes with Arctostaphylos uva-ursi (kinnikinnick) to produce Arctostaphylos × media. It also hybridizes with Arctostaphylos nevadensis (pinemat manzanita ) in the Mount Hood region of Oregon, where ranges of the two species overlap. Manzanita is Spanish for “little apples” alluding to the appearance of the small, brown fruits. Some native people reputedly ate the berries, although they are said to cause severe constipation.
A note for local readers by Daniel: Speaking of southwest Oregon, I’ll be presenting tonight (late notice, I know) at the Native Plant Society of British Columbia South Coast meeting, held at VanDusen Botanical Garden. The topic is “A Botanical Journey through the Siskiyou Mountains”, and I’ll be presenting with (occasional BPotD contributor) Ron Long and Virginia Skilton. Meeting starts at 7pm, hope to see you there!