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Brittle Leaf Manzanita
Arctostaphylos crustacea ssp. crustacea

About Brittle Leaf Manzanita (Arctostaphylos crustacea ssp. crustacea) Brittle Leaf Manzanita (Arctostaphylos crustacea ssp. crustacea) is a native shrub in the Ericaceae (Heath) family. It is one of six recognized subspecies of Arctostaphylos crustacea. This subspecies is endemic to California where it is a resident of chaparral canyons, foothills and lower elevation mountains fairly close to the coast in central California, primarily between the San Francisco Bay area and Santa Barbara County, including some of the Channel Islands. This is a low-lying, spreading Manzanita, generally quite a bit wider than it is tall. The stems may be red or gray or both, with smooth, rough, or shreddy bark, hairless to quite bristly. The leaves may be oval to lance-shaped and sometimes toothed, but the upper surface is generally darker and shinier than the lower. The flowers are white to pink and may be hairy or hairless inside. The fruits are fuzzy reddish drupes under a centimeter in diameter.
Plant Description
Plant Type

Max. Height
5 ft (1.5 m)

Max. Width
8 ft (2.4 m)


Flower Color
Pink, White, Red

Flowering Season
Spring, Winter

Native Status

Natural Setting
Site Type
Rocky or sandy soils, slopes

Sun, Part Shade

Elevation ?
20' - 4312'

Annual Precip. ?
11.9" - 87.5"

Summer Precip. ?
0.15" - 2.46"

Coldest Month ?
41.9° F - 53.9° F

Hottest Month ?
60.8° F - 74.3° F

Humidity ?
0.31 vpd - 22.90 vpd

Soil Description
In the wild it is most often seen growing in sand over hardpan

Soil PH
6.0 - 7.0


Cold Tolerance(° F)
Tolerates cold to 20° F

Sunset Zones ?
3, 7, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24

Wildlife Attracted
Insects and hummingbirds are attracted to the flowers. Other birds are attracted to the fruits

Landscaping Information
Water Requirement ?
Very Low
Extremely Low
Very Low
Moderate - High

Moderately Popular

Max. Summer Water ?
No Summer Water
Keep moist

Organic with Rocks

Prune to remove dead wood and to shape in late summer

Common uses
Bird Gardens, Hummingbird Gardens, Bee Gardens

Nursery Availability
Sometimes Available

Other Names
Botanical Names
Arctostaphylos tomentosa ssp. crustacea

Common Names
Brittle-leaf Manzanita, Brittleleaf Manzanita

Sources include: Wikipedia. All text shown in the "About" section of these pages is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License. Plant observation data provided by the participants of the California Consortia of Herbaria, Sunset information provided by Jepson Flora Project. Propogation from seed information provided by the Santa Barbara Botanical Garden from "Seed Propagation of Native California Plants" by Dara E. Emery. Sources of plant photos include CalPhotos, Wikimedia Commons, and independent plant photographers who have agreed to share their images with Calscape. Other general sources of information include Calflora, CNPS Manual of Vegetation Online, Jepson Flora Project, Las Pilitas, Theodore Payne, Tree of Life, The Xerces Society, and information provided by CNPS volunteer editors, with special thanks to Don Rideout. Climate data used in creation of plant range maps is from PRISM Climate Group, Oregon State University, using 30 year (1981-2010) annual "normals" at an 800 meter spatial resolution.

Links:   Jepson eFlora Taxon Page  CalPhotos  Wikipedia  Calflora

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