Arctostaphylos ‘Lester Rowntree’

Lester Rowntree Manzanita

Lester Rowntree Manzanita flower

Winter is when the manzanitas come into bloom. Many are pure white, as is the case with ArctostaphylosHoward McMinn’; Lester catches our eye both for its pronounced pink flush, and for the wonderful craggy structure the plant has overall – it looks like it was designed to live on hillsides.

Like many manzanitas, A. ‘Lester Rowntree’ grows slowly, but will eventually reach 10 feet high and wide. Both of ours are in sun and planted in clay, one on a hillside and one on a crest. A drought-tolerant plant, they haven't complained about the occasional additional watering.

These plants are important for overwintering hummingbirds, not just for nectar, but also for the small insects which are also attracted to the flowers. Later in the year, hard fruit forms (see image below) that looks like tiny apples (which is what “manzanita” means in Spanish); these are then used by wildlife.

By the way, Lester is a woman, not a man. She was one of the earliest explorers of California's native plants, including many species of Arctostaphylos and Ceanothus. For a thoroughly delightful read, try to find a used copy of her book Flowering Shrubs of California (Stanford Press, originally printed in 1939).

Lester Rowntree fruit

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