California Native Plant of the Month: Arctostaphylos pajaroensis

Somehow, December rushed by too quickly, and now January is almost over. So, lest we suddenly have a Native Plant of the Quarter, I give you (drumroll) Arctostaphylos pajaroensis (Pajaro manzanita).
A beautiful small shrub that's been blooming in my front yard since early January, the name of this manzanita points to Pajaro in Monterey County. Usually, manzanitas from closer to the coast tolerate a little extra shade and water but won't perish immediately if it heats up a bit. And the one in my front yard, which I planted 2 years ago (replacing a smoke bush that obstructed the view, regardless how fiercly I pruned) is no exception.
So, what's special? Well, first the beautiful dark reddish bark. Then the green leaves, which stay green year round. The white and rose bell-shaped flowers really brighten my rather dull front garden. I completely replanted everything this fall, and all the plants are small and just sit there. (I do hope they are all growing roots like crazy instead of preparing to dry up and croak for good come spring). And finally, what's really special is the rust-colored new growth. Here's what Las Pilitas says: "A rare manzanita, the red color on the new growth is so vibrant that everyone that sees this plant in our garden inquires about it." A worthy native plant of the month indeed!


Beautiful manzanita! I was looking for a large tree for a client recently and had no luck. We needed a large "shrub-tree" since we don't have years to wait for it to mature. Enjoy yours!