Factsheet F34: Arctostaphylos the manzanitas
Arctostaphylos are members of the heath (Ericaceae) family. They comprise some 50 species of mostly prostrate or medium sized shrubs; with the exception of two species from the alpine-arctic regions of the northern hemisphere (A.alpina, A.uva-ursi) they occur naturally in a variety of warm, dry and well-drained habitats in western North America, particularly California. They have alternate, simple leaves, terminal panicles or racemes of tiny urn-shaped usually white flowers, followed by spherical fruits. The name bearberry comes from the fact that bears like eating the fruits of several species.