Kruckeberg Botanic Garden Plant of the Month – Vine Hill Manzanita

Monday, March 15, 2010

 By Sarah Baker,
Garden Director

One of the Garden’s most admired plants year-round is the elegantly shaped Vine Hill manzanita (Arctostaphylos densiflora). Each spring, tiny pink flowers grace its slender, sinuously shaped branches. While in flower, it is guaranteed to catch your eye. 

Vine Hill manzanita possesses the attractive evergreen foliage, peeling dark red bark, and bell-shaped flowers that are common among manzanitas. Almost all manzanita species are found in the chaparral regions of western North America, where they occur from southern British Columbia south to much of northern and central Mexico. Interestingly, three Arctostaphylos species, the bearberries, are instead adapted to arctic and subarctic climates and have a circumpolar distribution in North America, Asia and Europe.

Endemic to a small area in the California chaparral, and considered endangered in its native range, Vine Hill manzanita is truly a unique and interesting plant for a Northwest garden. Despite its limited distribution in nature, it can thrive in our area when given full sun, well-drained soil, and good air circulation. This is a shrub that loves drought once established. No need to bother with summer watering!

Vine Hill manzanita is available to purchase at the Kruckeberg Garden, and several cultivars are available in other nurseries that offer variations in size, form, hardiness, and flower color. All are lovely additions to a sunny area in any gardener’s collection.


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