There are over one hundred different Manzanita (Arctostaphylos) species. California seems to be the Manzanita capital of the world, as there are at least sixty-nine varieties native to the state. Several types have naturalized in Nevada, including Kinnikinnick (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi), Pointleaf Manzanita (Arctostaphylos pungens), Pringle Manzanita (Arctostaphylos pringlei), Greenleaf Manzanita (Arctostaphylos patula), and Pinemat Manzanita (Arctostaphylos nevadensis).
The distinguising features of most Manzanita are their beautiful soft evergreen leaves, their amazing slick red bark, and their light pink flower clusters in late winter, early spring. The plant is incredibly drought tolerant and comes in a variety of shapes for different uses. The Manzanita featured in the photo is a bush type and a bit of a challenge to grow in the lower elevations (but who doesn't enjoy a challenge?), but perhaps the favorite for local xeriscaping projects is the Kinnikinnick. Also called Bearberry, Kinnikinnick is a low growing, creeping evergreen ground cover with beautiful deep green leaves and whitish pink flowers in the early spring.
The USDA characterizes Kinnikinnick as long-lived and very cold hardy. The plant requires little maintenance once established, but demands well drained, normally dry, course, sandy soils. It will grow in full sun, but also grows well under the broken shade of conifer trees. It's a very special plant, indeed. Drycreek has a limited supply of Kinnikinnick this spring.