Monthly Archives: October 2015

Hairy Manzanita, Arctostaphylos columbiana

Hairy Manzanita                                        The Heath Family–Ericaceae

Arctostaphylos columbiana Piper                 

(Ark-toe-STAFF-ih-loess  kohl-um-bee-ANN-uh)

Arctostaphylos columbiana

Names: This species is also known as Columbia or Redwood Manzanita. Arcto means bear; staphylos means a bunch of grapes.  Columbiana is derived from the Columbia River, which got its name from Captain Gray’s Ship, Columbia, which in turn was named for Christopher Columbus. Manzanita is Spanish for “little apples.”  Hairy refers to the gray-green hairs that cover its leaves

Relationships: There are about 70 species of Arctostaphylos.  All, but one, are evergreen.  Shrub forms are called Manzanita; low-growing groundcovers, and alpines are usually called Bearberries.  Most are native to the Western United States with about 55 species confined to California.  Three of the Bearberries have a circumpolar distribution, found in Northern North America and the northern regions of Europe and Asia. They and other low-growing Arctostaphylos sp. will be discussed in the section on groundcovers.

Distribution of Hairy Manzanita from USDA Plants Database

Distribution of Hairy Manzanita from USDA Plants Database

Distribution: Hairy Manzanita is found from Vancouver Island in British Columbia to the coast of Northern California, mostly on the west side of the Cascade Mountains.

Hairy Manzanita can reach tree size. It has very interesting branching patterns.

Hairy Manzanita can reach tree size. It has very interesting branching patterns.

Growth: Hairy Manzanita grows at a moderate rate up to 15 feet (5m).

Habitat: It is found in dry, open, sunny places and rocky hillsides, often in disturbed areas.   It is a bushy shrub that may be erect or spreading.

 

Hairy Manzanita leaves

 

 

Diagnostic Characters: Its grayish-green, hairy foliage and branches with peeling reddish, brown bark give it a very distinctive appearance in the Northwest.  The flowers are the typical white to pinkish bells of many of our Ericads.  The berries are a brownish-orange.

 

Arctostaphylos columbiana branching

Hairy Manzanita bushIn the landscape: it is an attractive addition to southern or western exposures.  The gray-green foliage makes a subtle contrast with other shades of green.  The reddish-brown, peeling bark adds interest along with its delicate pinkish-white, bell-shaped flowers and the orange, almost coppery, colored berries.   It is often sought out by gardeners, but unfortunately is not readily available due to difficulty in propagation.

Phenology: Bloom Period:  March-June, Fruit ripens July to August.

Arctostaphylos columbiana flowersHairy Manzanita fruit

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Propagation:  Hairy Manzanita has a very hard seed coat.  In nature it must go through the digestive tract of an animal or a fire before it will germinate.  Many sources suggest different methods of scarification including soaking in sulfuric acid for 24 hours, soaking in boiling water for 10- 20 seconds, or burning straw on top of them.  After scarification, seeds need to be stratified at 40ºF (4ºC) for 2 months, some recommend a warm stratification for 60 days prior to the cold stratification.  Heel cuttings taken from August to December should be treated with a hormone and stuck in a sand-peat media.  Layering is perhaps the easiest method of propagation, but these plants do not like their roots disturbed and transplanting should be performed with great care.

Use by people: A yellowish-brown dye may be made from its leaves.  The hard wood burns with a bright light and is useful for making small tools.  Some native people ate the berries.

Use by Wildlife: Birds such as sparrows and grosbeaks and small mammals such as skunks and chipmunks also eat the fruit.  Deer browse on the foliage.  The dense evergreen foliage provides excellent cover for wildlife.

Links:

USDA Plants Database

Consortium of Pacific Northwest Herbaria

WTU Herbarium Image Collection, Plants of Washington, Burke Museum

E-Flora BC, Electronic Atlas of the Flora of British Columbia

Jepson Eflora, University of California

Calphotos

Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center

USDA Forest Service-Fire Effects Information System

Virginia Tech ID Fact Sheet

Plants for a Future Database

Native American Ethnobotany, University of Michigan, Dearborn

 

Other species and naturally-occurring hybrids in our area:

(Click on LInk to see the USDA treatment of each species)

Greenleaf Manzanita, Arctostaphylos patula  In Washington, this species is only known to occur on the north shores of Lake Chelan and in Klickitat County near the Columbia River.  It is found in the Cascades of Oregon and throughout much of the Southwest.  It grows 3-6 feet (1-3m) tall and has nearly round leaves and the characteristic smooth, red bark.

Media Manzanita, Arctostaphylos x media Green (pro sp.), is a natural hybrid between Hairy Manzanita and Kinnikinnick (A. uva-ursi). Although it is most common on the Kitsap Peninsula in Washington State, it may occur wherever the ranges of its parents overlap.  It is intermediate in both form and leaf characteristics.  Media Manzanita only reaches a little over 2 feet (0.75m) tall but may spread up to 15 feet (5m).  Leaves are dark, gray-green and not as hairy as Hairy Manzanita.  Branches are a brighter red than Kinnikinnick.  It is an attractive, spreading shrub or groundcover for dry, gravelly areas but is difficult to find in the nursery trade.  Seeds are not usually produced; when they are, they either are not viable or are have a dormancy that is difficult to break.  Propagation may be achieved by cuttings or layering.

Media Manzanita at the nursery.

Media Manzanita at the nursery.

Media Manzanita in flower.

Media Manzanita in flower.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Arctostaphylos columbiana x A. nevadensis: Hairy Manzanita also hybridizes with Pinemat Manzanita, A. nevadensis,where ranges of the two species overlap, most notably in the Mount Hood region and the Big Lava Bed in Oregon.

Arctostaphylos patula x A. nevadensis may be found where A. patula occurs.  Reportedly, in some areas, this hybrid may be so common that it is hard to find pure A. patula.

Arctostaphylos patula x A. uva-ursi may also occur in the Lake Chelan area, but is not confirmed.

Arctostaphylos columbiana x A. patula occurs in Oregon but is not known in Washington.

*Many of these hybrids have been studied by the esteemed native plant expert, Arthur R. Kruckeberg.

 

Pacific Rhododendron, Rhododendron macrophyllum

Pacific Rhododendron                                                                The Heath Family–Ericaceae

Rhododendron macrophyllum shrubRhododendron macrophyllum D. Don ex G. Don

(roe-doe-DEN-dron  mak-row-FILL-um)

Names: The Pacific Rhododendron is also known as the Coast Rhododendron, California Rhododendron, or California Rosebay.  Rhododendron macrophyllum literally means, “Rose tree with big leaves.”  It is the state flower of Washington State.

Relationships: The rhododendron genus includes plants commonly known as azaleas.  It is a very large genus with about 1200 described species.  Most are found in China, Japan and neighboring countries; tropical species are found from Southeast Asia to New Guinea and Northern Australia.  Relatively few are native to Europe and North America.   The Rhododendron Species Foundation in Federal Way, Washington, which is dedicated to the conservation, public display, and distribution of Rhododendron species has about 600 species in their display gardens along with many of the over 28,000 cultivated varieties.  About 30 species are native to North America; the Pacific Northwest is home to only 5 species; two of which (Kamcahatka Rhododendron, R. camtschaticum and Lapland Rosebay, R. lapponiocum) are small prostrate shrubs from Alaska or Northern British Columbia.  The other 2 species will be discussed in the section on deciduous shrubs. Labrador Teas, Ledum sp. are also now often lumped into the Rhododendron genus.

Distribution of Pacific Rhododendron from USDA Plants Database

Distribution of Pacific Rhododendron from USDA Plants Database

Distribution: The Pacific Rhododendron is found west of the Cascades from southern British Columbia to Northern California.

Growth:  It reaches to about 24 feet (8m); taller in the shade than in the sun.

Pacific Rhododendron habitatHabitat: It grows in in fairly dry open forests and edges. It commonly grows along roadsides in the rainshadow of the Olympic Mountains.

 

 

 

 

Rhododendrons have the largest, showiest flowers in the family, as in this Pacific Rhododendron.

Rhododendrons have the largest, showiest flowers in the family, as in this Pacific Rhododendron.

Diagnostic characters: The thick, leathery leaves of Pacific Rhododendron are oblong, 3-8 inches (8-20cm) long.  The pink, sometimes white, bell-shaped flowers are borne in showy clusters called trusses.  Each flower has 5 lobes with wavy edges.  Seeds are produced in woody capsules.

 

Pacific Rhododendron

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the Landscape: Rhododendrons have long been a favorite of landscapers in the Pacific Northwest.  Although many may prefer the variety of flower colors, and forms in cultivated varieties, our native Rhododendron with its bold green leaves and spectacular pink flower clusters can find a place in both wild settings and more traditional landscapes.  Even those that steer away from rhodies due to the fact that they are so common in northwest gardens may be convinced to include this native species in their yard!  Pacific Rhododendron is also useful for erosion control on steep watersheds.

Rhododendron macrophyllum landscape

Phenology: Bloom Period:  April-May. Seed capsules ripen August to September.

Propagation:  Seeds do not require stratification, but require light to germinate.  Seeds remain viable for 2 years.  Collect softwood cuttings, May to September.  Wounding and dipping in an IBA hormone aids rooting of cuttings.  Peat and perlite is a preferred rooting medium; bottom heat and misting is also beneficial.

Rhododendron truss

Rhododendron truss2Use by people: Pacific Rhododendrons are of little use to people, except as an ornamental shrub. Flowers were used by natives as decoration, especially for dance wreaths.

Use by wildlife: This shrub provides all year cover for wildlife but has very little food value.  Deer and Mountain Beavers are among the few that browse on Pacific Rhododendron.

Links:

USDA Plants Database

Consortium of Pacific Northwest Herbaria

WTU Herbarium Image Collection, Plants of Washington, Burke Museum

E-Flora BC, Electronic Atlas of the Flora of British Columbia

Jepson Eflora, University of California

Calphotos

Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center

USDA Forest Service-Fire Effects Information System

Virginia Tech ID Fact Sheet

Native American Ethnobotany, University of Michigan, Dearborn

Evergreen Huckleberry, Vaccinium ovatum

Evergreen Huckleberry                                                       The Heath Family–Ericaceae

Vaccinium ovatum Pursh.            Vaccinium ovatum bush

(Vax-IH-nee-um Oh-VAH-tum)

Names: Evergreen Huckleberry is also called California Huckleberry, Evergreen Blueberry or Box Blueberry.  Ovatum refers to its oval-shaped leaves.

Relationships: There are about 450 species of Vaccinium worldwide, about 40 in North America with about 15 in the Pacific Northwest.  The genus Vaccinium includes Blueberries, Huckleberries, Cranberries, Lingonberries, Whortleberries, Bilberries and Cowberries.  Other Northwest Vacciniums will be discussed later under the sections on Deciduous Shrubs and Groundcovers.

Distribution of Evergreen Huckleberry from USDA Plants Database

Distribution of Evergreen Huckleberry from USDA Plants Database

Distribution: Evergreen Huckleberry is found on the west side of the Cascade Mountains from British Columbia to California.  Along the coast of California, it is common to the redwoods but sporadic further south.

Growth: Evergreen Huckleberry grows slowly, reaching 3-6 feet (1-2m) in the sun and 12 feet (4m) or more in the shade.

Habitat: It is very common in second growth forests, especially along edges and openings.

 

 

 

 

Attractive evergreen foliage is often used for floral arrangements

Attractive evergreen foliage is often used for floral arrangements

Diagnostic Characters: Its oval to lance-shaped foliage is evergreen, leathery and irregularly toothed (1-2 inches or 2-5cm long); often with a pinkish-brown or purplish tinge.  The flowers are pinkish-white bells, typical of many of our ericads.  The fruits are usually small purplish-black berries.  Sometimes you may find plants with berries that are larger and bluer with a waxy bloom resembling blueberries.

 

Pinkish-white bell-shaped flowers are attractive to many different pollinaters, including hummingbirds!

Pinkish-white bell-shaped flowers are attractive to many different pollinaters, including hummingbirds!

Foliage is sometimes purplish or bronzy, especially in winter.

Foliage is sometimes purplish or bronzy, especially in winter.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the Landscape: Evergreen Huckleberry is very versatile in the landscape and should be included in almost any natural revegetation project.  It will form an attractive hedge given time.

New growth of Evergreen Huckleberry is often reddish.

New growth of Evergreen Huckleberry is often reddish.

Phenology: Bloom Period:  April-May. Fruit ripens August to September but often remain on the plant through December.

Huckleberries taste sweeter after a frost!

Huckleberries taste sweeter after a frost!

Evergreen Huckleberry fruit with snow

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Propagation: Seeds are slow to germinate, but have no special requirements. However, stored seed may benefit from a stratification period.  Seedlings grow slowly and require 2-3 years to produce a saleable plant.  Even so, it is better to plant container-grown nursery stock with intact root systems. Wild-dug Evergreen Huckleberry does not transplant well.  Hardwood cuttings are someitmes successful.

Use by People:  Natives ate the berries fresh or dried them into cakes.  Today, common lore asserts that they are sweeter after the first frost.  The berries are a bit tedious to pick and separate from the foliage, but are delicious baked into muffins.  As for Salal, “Brush-pickers” collect Evergreen Huckleberry foliage for the florist trade.

Huckleberry Cleaning Machine on display by the Key Peninsula Historical Society at the 2015 KP Farm tour. The machine separated leaves and other debris  from the berries.

Huckleberry Cleaning Machine on display by the Key Peninsula Historical Society at the 2015 KP Farm tour. The machine separated leaves and other debris from the berries.

Evergreen HuckleberriesUse by Wildlife: Many songbirds and mammals eat the berries, including black bears, chipmunks, and mice. Deer, elk, rabbits, and grouse browse the foliage. Flowers attract hummingbirds, butterflies and other pollinators.

 

 

 

Links:

USDA Plants Database

Consortium of Pacific Northwest Herbaria

WTU Herbarium Image Collection, Plants of Washington, Burke Museum

E-Flora BC, Electronic Atlas of the Flora of British Columbia

Jepson Eflora, University of California

Calphotos

Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center

USDA Forest Service-Fire Effects Information System

Virginia Tech ID Fact Sheet

Native Plants Network, Propagation Protocol Database

Plants for a Future Database

Native American Ethnobotany, University of Michigan, Dearborn