Guide to Wild Manzanita

The berries from a wild Manzanita flower are edible, and can be used for tasty jellies and jams.

| April 21, 2014

Wild Manzanita

Ripe wild manzanita berries.

Photo courtesy Chicago Review Press

More than a listing of plant types and general facts, Guild to Wild Foods and Useful Plants, Second Edition (Chicago Review Press, 2014) is full of fascinating folklore, personal anecdotes, and tasty recipes perfect for anyone who is interested in living closer to the earth. Christopher Nyerges — co-director of the School of Self-Reliance — offers hikers, campers and foragers an array of tips for harvesting and consuming wild edibles. This excerpt provides valuable information about the Wild Manzanita flower, once a food staple of Native American tribes in what is now Southern California.

You can purchase this book from the MOTHER EARTH NEWS store: Guide to Wild Foods and Useful Plants, Second Edition.

Manzanita Arctostaphylos spp.
Heath Family: Ericaceae

Most Prominent Characteristics of Wild Manzanita

Overall Shape and Size: Most varieties appear as shrubs or small trees with crooked branches. At least one species is a vining plant.

Stalks and Stems: Perhaps the most characteristic feature of the manzanita is the striking maroon-colored bark that appears smooth and polished.

Leaves: All manzanita leaves are leathery and tough. The leaves vary in outline from round to oblong or elliptic. The margins of the leaves are entire (in rare cases there are serrations).

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