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Rainbow Manzanita
Arctostaphylos rainbowensis

About Rainbow Manzanita (Arctostaphylos rainbowensis) Arctostaphylos rainbowensis is a rare species in the Ericaceae (Heath) family known by the common name Rainbow manzanita. It is endemic to California, where it is known only from northern San Diego and southern Riverside Counties. A specimen was first collected in 1973 and considered to be part of a disjunct population of Arctostaphylos peninsularis, or alternately a hybrid between A. glauca and Arctostaphylos glandulosa. Following phenetic analyses both possibilities were discarded and the plant was described as a new species in 1994. It was named for the community of Rainbow, California, near where it is most common in the chaparral of the lower elevation coastal mountains and the only manzanita species throughout most of its range. Due to its limited distribution it is included on CNPS list 1B.1.

This is an erect shrub reaching a bushlike one meter to a treelike four meters in height. It produces a burl at its base and is coated in reddish brown, smooth bark. The oval leaves are up to 5 centimeters long and 3.5 wide and are hairless and somewhat waxy in texture. The flower cluster is a hanging cluster of white urn-shaped flowers each about 6 to 8 millimeters long. The fruit is about a centimeter wide and ripens to a dark purple-brown.
Plant Description
Plant Type

Max. Height
3.3 - 13.2 ft (1 - 4 m)

Max. Width
3 - 16 ft (0.9 - 4.9 m)

Rounded, Upright

Growth Rate


Flower Color
Pink, White

Flowering Season
Spring, Winter

Native Status
Natural Setting
Site Type


Elevation ?
327' - 5874'

Annual Precip. ?
14.0" - 22.7"

Summer Precip. ?
0.26" - 2.06"

Coldest Month ?
41.0° F - 54.0° F

Hottest Month ?
67.8° F - 79.8° F

Humidity ?
1.54 vpd - 25.77 vpd

Soil Description
Prefers sandy or decomposed granite soil

Soil PH
6.0 - 7.5

Fast, Medium

Cold Tolerance(° F)
Tolerates cold to 5° F

Wildlife Attracted
Hummingbirds and insects are attracted to the flowers. Various birds and small mammals are attracted to the fruits.

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

Seldom Used

Max. Summer Water ?
No Summer Water
Keep moist

Organic with Rocks

Common uses
Bird Gardens, Hummingbird Gardens, Bee Gardens

Nursery Availability
Sometimes Available

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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