Nature Note – Bend, Oregon, April 14, 2016.
Manzanita (man-za-nee-ta) — what a beautiful name…just rolls off the tongue. In Spanish it means “little apple” for the miniature apple-like fruits loved by a variety of animals including bears, coyotes and foxes.
Greenleaf manzanita (Arctostaphylos patula) is definitely an important spring pollinator in my neck of the woods (central Oregon) and likely everywhere it grows throughout the western United States (from Washington south to California, east to New Mexico and north to Montana — a true westerner!). At peak bloom, hordes of bees visiting manzanita flowers put on a full-blown concert (imagine the sound of 100’s of bees buzzing)!
Three cool facts about greenleaf manzanita:
- Easy to Identify — Once you key into its leathery evergreen oval leaves and striking smooth red-brown bark, you’ll be able to identify this plant all year round! You’ll impress everyone with your ability to identify greenleaf manzanita in the dead of winter!
- Bees Dance? — Yes, they do! “The flowers are pollinated most effectively by bees that grasp the flower and shake it by actively beating their wings. This process, like shaking a salt and pepper container, permits efficient collection of the pollen, which is used for food” (USDA NRCS Plant Guide).
- Fire — Greenleaf manzanita seeds need fire to germinate (as well as a good cold spell following that fire).
Greenleaf manzanita is blooming now and the peak pollinator concert is sure to happen in the next few weeks! Perfect time of year to hike through open pine forests with eyes and ears wide open to the natural world around us!
“Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.” – Albert Einstein
If you want to learn more about wildflowers, there are many wonderful field guides such as Wildflowers of the Pacific Northwest. Knowing the world around you is one more part of our ecofriendly journey!
Photo Credits: Top photo – greenleaf Manzanita flowers & leaves by Katie Grenier; Shiny red manzanita bark by Brewbooks; greenleaf manzanita habitat by Katie Grenier.