Greenleaf Manzanita (Patula)

The Greenleaf Manzanita (Patula) is generally described as a perennial shrub. This is native to the U.S. (United States) has its most active growth period in the spring and summer . The greatest bloom is usually observed in the late spring, with fruit and seed production starting in the summer and continuing until fall. Leaves are retained year to year. The Greenleaf Manzanita (Patula) has a long life span relative to most other plant species and a slow growth rate. At maturity, the typical Greenleaf Manzanita (Patula) will reach up to 6 feet high, with a maximum height at 20 years of 5 feet.

The Greenleaf Manzanita (Patula) is easily found in nurseries, garden stores and other plant dealers and distributors. It can be propagated by bare root, container, seed. It has a slow ability to spread through seed production and the seedlings have low vigor. Note that cold stratification is not required for seed germination and the plant cannot survive exposure to temperatures below -28°F. has high tolerance to drought and restricted water conditions.

Uses of : Landscaping, Medicinal, Culinary, etc.

The fruits of greenleaf manzanita are utilized by bear, deer, other small mammals, and a wide array of birds. Infusions of the leaves and bark were used by some native Americans to treat cuts and burns. The crooked wood of central stems and lower branches are used in several cottage industries, including lamp stands and other decorative wood crafts.

General Characteristics

General: Heath Family (Ericaceae). Greenleaf manzanita is an erect evergreen shrub 1-2 m tall, with a broad, rounded crown. It has a basal burl and consequently resprouts after fire. The bark of young twigs is resinous to short hairy with golden glands, but mature bark is smooth and bright red-brown. Leaves have short petioles with ovate to almost round blades that are 2-5 cm long, 1.5-4 cm wide, bright yellowish green, and glabrous on both sides. The flowers, which open from April to June, are arranged in panicles with glandular scale-like bracts that are 3-7 mm long. The urn-shaped corollas are white, sometimes tinged with pink, and 6-8 mm long. The fruits are globose, 7-11 mm in diameter, smooth and chestnut brown, with a mealy pulp that encloses several, hard-walled seeds.

Hybrids between greenleaf manzanita and the prostrate kinnikinnick (A. uva-ursi) are found wherever the two species come into contact. Such hybrids have a spreading form, dense foliage, and white to pinkish flowers, which offer some promise as landscape ornamentals in areas experiencing cold winters.

Required Growing Conditions

Arctostaphylos patula is one of the most widespread manzanitas, ranging throughout the mountains of western North America as far east as Colorado. For current distribution, please consult the Plant Profile page for this species on the PLANTS Web site.

Cultivation and Care

Adaptation: It inhabits well-drained, rocky slopes in association with coniferous forests and high elevation chaparral. Its general geographic range is characterized by cool, relatively dry summers and wet winters with precipitation ranging from 50 to 80 inches per year, partly as snow. It prefers well-drained, acidic soils in open sunny sites. Greenleaf manzanita has a high tolerance for cold, below-freezing winters, but depends partly on snow cover to protect dormant buds. Occasional fires may be important to successful seed germination and establishment and to crown sprouting in senescent plants.

Natural Establishment: Arctostaphylos patula, like most manzanita species, requires insect visitation to ensure seed-set. The flowers are pollinated most effectively by bees that grasp the flower and shake it by actively beating their wings. This process, like shaking a salt and pepper container, permits efficient collection of the pollen, which is used for food. Fruits are dispersed primarily by animals, which presumably aid later germination by ingesting and digesting the fruit and softening the outer seed coat. However, natural germination is sporadic except after fire, which cracks the hard coat of seeds that have accumulated in the litter layer. Greenleaf manzanita prefers loose, well-drained soils and, like other members of the heath family (Ericaceae), has an obligate relationship with mycorrhizal fungi.

Seed Propagation: Propagation from seed is difficult, because of the thick, bony seed walls and low rates of germination (less than 10%) without treatment. However, if propagation from seed is desired, treatment must ensure that the seed coat is broken without damaging the embryo. Individual seeds may be filed with a steel file, but larger quantities can be treated by placing them into a container of boiling water that is removed from the source of heat after 1-2 minutes. Seeds also respond well to burning, which is accomplished by firing a 4-inch deep layer of combustible leaves and twigs over a flat planted with seeds. These treatments crack the seed coats but may reduce viability. Treated seeds should be stratified in a moist mix of milled spaghnum and beach sand for 2-8 months until they germinate. Other techniques, including use of sulfuric acid to soften the seed coat, may enhance germination, but also requires special precautions against spillage and contamination.

Vegetative Propagation: Vegetative propagation is preferred over seeds. Greenleaf manzanita is most easily propagated by cutting terminal shoots that include 1-2 inches of the woody stem from the previous year. Cuttings work best if taken between March and May and should be dipped in a rooting hormone before being placed in a moist sand-peat mixture. Cuttings need to be kept moist by regular watering or misting until roots appear. Once rooted, they should be transplanted into small containers using potting soil, to allow for proper root development. Manzanitas generally do not transplant well, so they should be grown to vigorous conditions in one-gallon containers and then moved to a permanent position in the late fall or early winter. Relatively slow growth rates during the first few years can be expected. If plants are used in an urban landscape, the use of organic-rich soils and acidified fertilizers is recommended.

General Upkeep and Control

Under natural conditions no special management is required to maintain established manzanitas. Either scarified seeds or well-rooted container plants may be used to revegetate cleared sites. In the urban landscape, several horticultural techniques should be used to ensure healthy plants. All manzanitas should be planted higher than the surrounding soil to prevent crown rot, which can result from excessive water and soil moisture, especially during the summer. Overhead watering should also be avoided because it tends to encourage fungal diseases (e.g., Botryosphaeria) that cause branch die-back and leaf spot. Manzanitas are also susceptible to gall-producing aphids (Tamalia), which cause young leaves to curl and cease growth.

Periodic watering every 4-6 weeks will keep foliage healthy without weakening plants. Mulching is desirable to control weeds, retain soil moisture, and reduce the need for irrigation. Rock mulches have proven more successful than organic mulches. Pruning should be avoided and used only to remove dead wood and diseased branches.

Plant Basics
Growth Rate Slow
General Type Shrub
Growth Period Spring, Summer
Growth Duration Perennial
Lifespan Long
Plant Nativity Native to U.S.
Commercial Availability Routinely Available
Physical Characteristics
Bloom Period Late Spring
Displays Fall Colors No
Shape/Growth Form Multiple Stem
Drought Tolerance High
Shade Tolerance Intermediate
Height When Mature 6
Vegetative Spread Moderate
Flower Color White
Flower Conspicuousness No
Fruit/Seed Abundance Low
Fruit/Seed Seasonality Summer Fall
Seed Spread Rate Slow
Gardening Characteristics
Propagations (Ways to Grow) Bare Root, Container, Seed
Moisture Requirements Medium
Cold Stratification Required Yes
Minimum Temperature -28
Soil Depth for Roots 20
Toxic to Nearby Plants Yes
Toxic to Livestock No
After-Harvest Resprout Ability Yes
Responds to Coppicing No
Growth Requirements
pH Range 5.5–7.6 pH
Precipitation Range 13–13 inches/yr
Planting Density 1210–4850 indiv./acre
Soil Textures Coarse, Medium
Soil Depth for Roots 20
Minimum Frost-Free Days 120 day(s)
Salinity Tolerance None
CaCO3 Tolerance Medium
Sustainability & Use
Leaf Retention Yes
Palatability Low
Fire Resistant No
Causes Livestock Bloating None

Source: USDA, NRCS, PLANTS Database,
National Plant Data Center, Baton Rouge, LA 70874-4490 USA