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Mission Manzanita
Xylococcus bicolor

About Mission Manzanita (Xylococcus bicolor) Mission Manzanita is a shrub that grows up to 20 feet tall, and 20 feet in diameter. Its native range is very limited, comprising Southwestern and Pacific coastal California from San Diego county through north-central Pacific coastal Baja California, a small area in the foothills northwest of Pasadena in Los Angeles Country, a bit of southern Riverside County near Temecula, and Santa Catalina Island. Mission Manzanita is a slow growing shrub that resembles the true manzanitas (Arctostaphylos).

The form is upright or rounded, with one or multiple trunks. Leaves are oblong, glossy dark green on the top and very light colored with a felty texture on the underside. The edges of the leaves curl under as they age. Bark is smooth and a red-gray color. Flowers, which appear from December to February depending on rainfall, are white to pink in color blending to yellowish at the open end, 8-10 millimeter; in length and hang like bells in small clusters near the ends of branches. Fruit is glossy dark red to almost black, 7 millimeter; diameter and has very little flesh, being mostly a large, woody seed. The name Xylococcus comes from the Greek for "wood berry".

Mission Manzanita is found mixed southern chaparral ecosystems below 3500' elevation on dry, sunny slopes in a very limited range of coastal areas of southern California and northern Baja California. Coyotes and birds, including the California Thrasher and Scrub Jay, eat the fruit. Hummingbirds, especially the resident Anna's Hummingbird, drink nectar from flowers. Various birds nest in Mission Manzanita and many use it for cover. It re-sprouts from a basal burl after fires, and is extremely long lived. Some specimens are estimated to be over 400 years old.

Best to plant Mission Manzanita in early winter, on dry rocky slopes with fast draining soil. Put plenty of mulch and a few good sized rocks near the roots to prevent summer moisture loss. It likes regular light watering (1x every 2 weeks) during the first summer after planting, After established, it should survive the dry months with no supplementary water, though it can usually handle summer watering as much as once per month for it's first 2-3 years. After that, best to naturalize. This plant prefers to have its leaves in full sun, but likes its roots in the shade. Does best on north facing slopes.
Plant Description
Plant Type

Max. Height
5 - 20 ft (1.5 - 6.1 m)

Max. Width
5 - 20 ft (1.5 - 6.1 m)

Rounded, Upright Columnar


Growth Rate

Evergreen, Summer Semi-Deciduous

Green to olive green, slightly yellowing and curled when summer stressed.

Flower Color
Pink, White

Flowering Season
Spring, Winter

Native Status

Natural Setting
Site Type
Dry open slopes, ridges, canyons and mesas as part of mixed southern chaparral or southern maritime chaparral ecosystems below 3500' elevation in a very limited range of coastal areas of southern California and northern Baja California.


Elevation ?
6' - 5762'

Annual Precip. ?
9.8" - 32.5"

Summer Precip. ?
0.21" - 2.41"

Coldest Month ?
39.4° F - 57.3° F

Hottest Month ?
63.9° F - 79.6° F

Humidity ?
0.99 vpd - 25.91 vpd

Soil Description
Tolerates most soils as long as drainage is fast

Soil Texture
Clay Loam, Loam, Loamy Sand

Soil PH
6 - 7


Cold Tolerance(° F)
Tolerates cold to 25° F

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

Companion Plants
Sugar Bush, Spiny Redberry, Black Sage, Ceanothus crassifolius, Ceanothus tomentosus, Ceanothus leucodermis

Wildlife Attracted
Coyotes, Anna's Hummingbirds, California Thrasher, Scrub Jay

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

Moderately Popular

Max. Summer Water ?
No Summer Water
No Summer Water
Keep moist

Organic with Rocks

Propagation ?
Mission Manzanitas are extremely long lived, resprouting from basal burls after fires and living, and correspondingly propogate very infrequently in nature. Seedlings are fairly rare. There is speculation that passing through the digestive system of coyotes, and fire scarification may be necessary to germinate Mission Manzanita seeds, but so far, gardeners have not been able to figure out how to grow this plant from seeds. All propogation of this plant in nurseries is through cuttings.

Common uses
Bank Stabilization, Deer Resistant, Hummingbird Gardens, Bird Gardens, Bee Gardens

Nursery Availability
Commonly 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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