An evergreen shrub 4 to 8 ft high in this country, but becoming a small tree 25 ft high in its native home; young shoots, inflorescence, leaf-stalks, and midribs covered with dense down; bark peeling. Leaves ovate, heart-shaped or oval, 11⁄4 to 21⁄2 in. long, 3⁄4 to 13⁄4 in. wide, entire, thick and leathery; at first of a dull grey, afterwards bright grey-green, slightly downy when young; leaf-stalk stout, 1⁄8 to 1⁄2 in. long. Flowers produced in March and April in short terminal panicles about 11⁄2 in. long and wide, lasting long in beauty. Corolla egg-shaped, about 1⁄4 in. long, deep pink, with five small, rounded teeth at the nearly closed mouth; sepals whitish; flower-stalks slender, 1⁄4 in. or less long. Fruit not seen in Britain, but described as a brownish-red, orange-shaped berry 1⁄3 to 1⁄2 in. wide. Bot. Mag., t. 8128.
Native of California; introduced to Kew in 1897. This shrub requires a sunny position and a peaty, well-drained soil. Cuttings will not take root easily, at least a way has not yet been found, so far as I know, to make them do so. It is impatient of root disturbance, and should be given a permanent place early, and till then grown in pots. Its stiff, somewhat gaunt branches, red where not hidden by peeling bark; the rigid, hard, grey foliage; and the short, crowded flower-clusters, give this rare shrub a most distinct appearance. ‘Manzanita’, which has been selected for its specific name, is an old Spanish-Californian term for the bushy members of the genus generally.
A. pungens H.B.K. – An allied species but with a more southerly distribution, distinguished by its smaller leaves (to 11⁄4 in. at the most in length and usually shorter) and smaller fruit (about 1⁄4 in. wide). Flowers white, in compact racemes or panicles, the common stalks characteristically thickened towards the apex.