Found throughout large areas of the North American west, manzanitas (Arctostaphylos spp., Ericaceae) are common inhabitants of chaparral and other arid shrublands and woodlands. Made up of dozens of species, these woody plants grow as bushes or small trees and can be found all the way from British Columbia down through Mexico.
Several key characteristics make these plants easy to identify. They feature smooth reddish-orange bark and small but thick evergreen leaves. In late winter and spring they produce dense clusters of nodding pink flowers.
After insects pollinate the flowers they develop into small seed-bearing fruit. Manzanita is Spanish for “little apple,” something the ripe red berries resemble. The fruit of most species is not only edible but palatable, making it a desirable summer food source for a variety of animals including humans.