The Manzanita is my most favorite California trees. They are a notable contrast to the pines that populate most of the wilderness in the Sierras. I first noticed Manzanitas when hiking through Pinnacles National Monument near Hollister, California. They stood out from the rocky, orange colored landscape. And now we enjoy a grove on our property at Pine Mountain Lake.
The blue-green oval-shaped leaves contrast the native orange-red soil and the rose-colored tree bark. In the spring, you can see the pink urn-shaped flowers that are often inhabited by bees and hummingbirds. Later in the season and early summer, the flowers turn into berries.
When traveling through the southwest last summer, we found some recipes that actually use the Manzanita berries. They are used to make flour, jams and cider. I may have to try ones of these recipes this summer (if the birds leave me enough berries).
In addition to their interesting look and being a food sources, they are survivors. They survive the Sierra winter snows and the summer droughts. They are evergreens that thrive in our region.