Hello Pine Mountain Plant-lovers:
Thanks for joining us on our Feb. 25 hike up Pine Mountain and on to Carson Falls! Susan and Carolyn consulted with Doreen Smith regarding the several manzanitas we saw on the trail and got the following clarification:
Growing at the bottom of the trail are 2 very similar looking types– both are rounded shrubs of about 2-3 feet tall with kind of shiny leaves, only slightly hairy on the stems and leaves. One of them was already in bloom and had slightly rougher leaves. This was Cushing’s manzanita, Arctostaphylos glandulosa ssp. cushingiana. The other was only in bud, had brown bracts on the buds and was slightly smoother. We were correct in identifying this as Arctostaphylos montana ssp. montana, aka Marin manzanita.
When we got to the upper part of the trail, before the left turn toward the Carson Falls turnoff, we found quite a different-looking variety – more of a gray-green, dull, and extremely hairy on all parts. The shrubs were upright and reached 4-6 feet in height and had only a few flowers or buds on these.
Among this latter group was one plant that had a distinctive growth pattern of the leaves– they were very upright almost parallel to the stem and kind of overlapping. We thought maybe we had found the only County occurrence of A. imbricata, but this is endemic to Mt. San Bruno.
But Doreen advises that these plants were all Eastwood’s manzanita, A. glandulosa ssp. glandulosa, the same species (but different subspecies) of the Cushing’s manzanita at the bottom of the trail. Its hard to believe that two subspecies of A. glandulosa could look so very different but its true!
Doreen also recalls the exact plant that puzzled us because of its very upright leaves but says it is a less common form of Eastwood’s manzanita, which can be seen in a few other locations in the County.
One other field mark that one should always look for on a manzanita is whether the plant has a basal burl (big woody root) or not. A. glandulosa always has one whereas the somewhat similar A. virgata does not.
Thanks to our local expert Doreen for straightening us out!
Hike led by Carolyn Longstreth and Susan Schlosser.
Phootos by Doreen and Vernon Smith