Herb: Manzanita


Latin name: Arctostaphylos manzanita


Synonyms: Arctostaphylos pungens manzanita


Family: Ericaceae (Heath Family)



Medicinal use of Manzanita:

A poultice of the chewed leaves is applied to sores and headaches. The leaves are chewed as a treatment for stomach ache and cramps. An infusion of the leaves is used to treat severe colds and diarrhoea. A cider made from the fruit is used in the treatment of stomach complaints and as an appetizer to create appetite.

Description of the plant:



Plant:
Evergreen
Shrub

Height:
2 m
(6 1/2 foot)

Flovering:
February
to April

Habitat of the herb:

Dry coastal slopes and in canyons up to 1200 metres.

Edible parts of Manzanita:

Fruit - raw or cooked. An agreeable acid flavour but the fruit is dry and mealy. Hard to digest, the fruit should be eaten in moderation. It can be dried and ground into a powder and then used as a flavouring in soups, bread etc. A cooling drink can be made from the fruit. The berries can be crushed to make a sweet, unfermented cider.

Other uses of the herb:

A yellowish-brown dye is obtained from the leaves, it does not require a mordant. The leaves can be boiled and the yellowish-red extract used as a cleansing body wash. The wood makes an exceedingly fine fuel.

Propagation of Manzanita:

Seed - best sown in a greenhouse as soon as it is ripe. Pre-soak dried seed in boiling water for 10 - 20 seconds or burn some straw on top of them and then stratify at 2 - 5C for 2 months. Another report says that the seed requires 60 days warm followed by 60 days cold stratification. The seed usually germinates in 2 - 3 months at 15C. When large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in a cold frame or greenhouse for at least their first winter. Plant out in late spring or early summer. Cuttings of side shoots of the current season's growth, 5 - 8cm with a heel, August to December in a frame. Takes one year. Division in early spring. Take care because the plant resents root disturbance. Pot the divisions up and keep them in a lightly shaded position in a cold frame or greenhouse until they are growing away actively. Layering in spring.

Cultivation of the herb:

Dry coastal slopes and in canyons up to 1200 metres.

Known hazards of Arctostaphylos manzanita:

None known

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.