Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Mexican Manzanita, Pointleaf Manzanita
Arctostaphylos pungens

Family: Ericaceae (er-ek-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Arctostaphylos (ark-toh-STAF-ih-los) (Info)
Species: pungens (PUN-gens) (Info)

4 members have or want this plant for trade.


4-6 ft. (1.2-1.8 m)

36-48 in. (90-120 cm)

USDA Zone 5a: to -28.8 C (-20 F)
USDA Zone 5b: to -26.1 C (-15 F)
USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 C (-10 F)
USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 C (-5 F)
USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)
USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)
USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)
USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)
USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)
USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)
USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)
USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 C (35 F)

Sun Exposure:
Full Sun


Bloom Color:
White/Near White

Bloom Time:
Late Winter/Early Spring
Mid Spring


Other details:
This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds
Drought-tolerant; suitable for xeriscaping

Soil pH requirements:
5.1 to 5.5 (strongly acidic)
5.6 to 6.0 (acidic)
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
By dividing the rootball
From softwood cuttings
From seed; winter sow in vented containers, coldframe or unheated greenhouse
From seed; stratify if sowing indoors

Seed Collecting:
Allow unblemished fruit to ripen; clean and dry seeds
Unblemished fruit must be significantly overripe before harvesting seed; clean and dry seeds

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4 positives
1 neutral
1 negative

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive Futaku On Dec 6, 2009, Futaku from Boulder, CO wrote:

This species of Arctostaphylos is abundant at lower elevations in Washington County, Utah (extreme southwestern part of the state), and everywhere I have seen it growing it is in soils that appear to be derived from limestone. Hence, I do not think it is correct to insist too much on its requiring acidic to neutral soil.

Negative quiltygirl On Dec 2, 2008, quiltygirl from No Central, AZ (Zone 7b) wrote:

Here in zone 9, Wildomar, CA we have enjoyed these shrubs. I allow some natives to seed and grow on the property (but not all or we would not be able to walk!). In libellule's article 11/28/08 on Winter Blooming Plants it says about Mexican Manzanitas: " According to the website Manzanita Works, this plant is considered a fire hazard, "The leaves hold an oily substance that is extremely combustible when the ambient temperature approaches the 100 degree mark..". That makes me a little nervous as we back up to a wildlife preserve AND we have MANY days over 100 degrees here.

Positive Opoetree On Aug 10, 2007, Opoetree from Oak View, CA wrote:

We love these plants! The structure is architecturally suited to our rolling hills and the wonderfully dark-hued red bark is a stand-out! The blossoms seem to be a gentle touch...almost a 'soft side' to an otherwise rugged survivor -- possibly a ying/yang effect.

Positive Xenomorf On Dec 1, 2006, Xenomorf from Valley of the Sun, AZ (Zone 9b) wrote:

I've seen these growing in the wild in Tonto Basin, AZ and on the West Ruby Road Trail in Arizona (South of Tucson), off of Interstate 19 through to Ruby, AZ and on to Arivaca, AZ.

Also known as Point-leaf Manzanita

Neutral frostweed On Nov 28, 2006, frostweed from Josephine, Arlington, TX (Zone 8a) wrote:

Mexican Manzanita Arctostaphylos pungens is native to Texas and other States.

Positive htop On Jan 14, 2006, htop from San Antonio, TX (Zone 8b) wrote:

Mexican manzanita (Arctostaphylos pungens) is also known as point-leaf manzanita, bear-berry, kinnikinnick, pinguica, palo de pinguica and Manzana. The genus name is from the Greek where "Arktos" refers to bear and "staphyle" refers to a cluster of grapes. Its genus name suggests that bears eat the fruit. "Pungens" refers to the sharp points at the ends of the leaves. The common name manzanita is Spanish for little apple referring to the small apple shaped fruit

It is an evergreen shrub (subshrub), is native to southern North America and Mexico which habitats woodlands, sunny woodland edges, rocky slopes, ridges and chaparrals. It often forms dense thickets. In Texas, it can be found in only two populations in the Trans-Pecos, although it grows west to California and north to Utah. Mexican manzanita needs deep, acidic to very acidic, light or medium lime-free loam to gravelly soil. It requires a sunny or semi-shaded spot; but does not produce as much fruit when it is planted in the shade. It tolerates moist soil as long as it is well-drained, but is also drought tolerant. Mexican manzanita has a fibrous, shallow root system. In sandy soil, it can have a taproot. Most roots are found in the top 8 inches of soil.

The up to 2 inch, dark green leaves are thick, leathery and pointed at the tip and base. They are ovate to lanceolate. The wax-like coating on the leaves assists with preventing water loss. The leaves hold an oily substance that is extremely combustible when temperatures approach the 100 degree mark making it this a dangerous fire hazard.T he foliage is sometimes grazed by goats and cattle especially in times of drought. Manzanita is noted for its beautiful smooth, shiny red-mahogany bark and branches which makes a great contrast with the evergreen foliage. It peels in the winter.

The 1/4 inch, bell-shaped, waxy, whitish to pink colored flowers have pink corollas and attrct hummingbirds. They are hermaphrodite, having both male and female organs and are pollinated by Insects. Ten to fifteen blooms appear from January through March clustered at the tip of the branches.

The round, orange to reddish-brown to bronze, apple-like, 1/4 inch in diameter fruit (pome) may be eaten raw or cooked, has an acid flavor and is dry and mealy. They appear from April through July. Because it is difficult to digest, it should be eaten in moderation. They may be dried and ground into a powder and then used as mush or as a flavouring in soups. They can be cooked to make jams, jellies, pies or stews. In addition, a cooling cider or wine can be made from the fruit. The fruits and leaves are available at native markets in Mexico as pingica. A number of small mammals, as well as black bear and ground birds eat the berries of this plant.


An infusion of the leaves is used in the treatment of diarrhea and in the treatment of the rash caused by poison oak and poison ivy. Leaves are used externally to reduce swelling, sore muscles and other inflammations, to relieve used for stomach problems and as astringents. A tea made from the leaves and berries can be used as a diuretic or to treat bronchitis. It is useful in relieving urinary tract problems such as kidney stones and bladder infections. the Ramah Navajo sometimes smoked the leaves with tobacco in order to bring them good luck.

The wood makes a good fuel and is usd in construction. A yellowish-brown dye is obtained from the leaves. The hard wood has been used for making small tools, awl handles, carvings, pipes, etc.

This plant may be propagated by seed, cuttings or division; but, is difficult to propagate. The seed is best sown in a greenhouse as soon as it is ripe. They most be pre-soaked after they have dried in boiling water for 10 - 20 seconds or burn some straw on top of them. Then, they must be stratifed at 2 - 5c for 2 months. The seed usually germinates in 2 - 3 months at 15c. Cuttings current season's growth side shoots with a 5 - 8cm heel may be rooted from August to December in a frame. The cuttings are very slow to root which can take up to a year Plants should be divided in early spring. Care should be taken when doing so because the plant does not like its roots to be disturbed. The divisions should be potted and placed in light shade in a cold frame or greenhouse until they are actively growing.

Mexican manzanita is a low-maintenance plant and a lovely ornamental with its crooked branches for the landscape, but is difficult to find commercially.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Arivaca, Arizona
Prescott Valley, Arizona
Rio Rico, Arizona
Tonto Basin, Arizona
Oak View, California
Wildomar, California
Boulder, Colorado
Elizabeth City, North Carolina
San Antonio, Texas

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