Arctostaphylos nummularia

Arctostaphylos nummularia subsp. mendocinoensis

The pygmy manzanita (Arctostaphylos nummularia) is a species endemic to Mendocino County, California  where it is known from its occurrence in the pygmy forests along the coastline. I think this might just be the perfect northern coastal California shrub for a native plant garden. It has a perfectly rounded form, beautiful small leaves, and subtly hairy stems.

Arctostaphylos nummularia

Arctostaphylos nummularia subsp. mendocinoensis by Allison Poklemba

A. nummularia range map

A. nummularia range map

FORM: prostrate to mounded, 0.1–0.5m STEM: old stem bark red-gray, generally rough or shredding LEAVES: blade 0.5–1.2cm, 0.3–0.7cm wide, oblong-elliptic, base rounded to wedge-shaped FLOWER: four sepals per flower FRUIT: 3–4mm wide, ±cylindric, glabrous, mature splitting; stones free HABITAT: pygmy pine forest, chaparral; 50–200m OBSERVATIONS: Jug Handle State Reserve; found primarily in the Fort Bragg-Mendocino area IDENTIFICATION: leaves are the smallest in the genus and comparable only in size to A. myrtifolia (slightly longer leaves); four sepals per flower, and the small, pulpless fruit fall very early and are rarely seen REMARKS: this subspecies integrates into taller forms of A. nummularia subsp. nummularia outside acid-clay soils of the pygmy forests near Fort Bragg.

4 thoughts on “Arctostaphylos nummularia

  1. So this is pygmy because of genetics or genetics plus soil conditions? I guess the question is: did the soil conditions lead to an adaptation or does one plant that grows one way somewhere else grow pygmy in the deficient conditions?

    • Hi Andrew- The general understanding is that the genetics have changed do to isolation on this soil type. Edaphic evolution over the past 500,000 years or so. I am not sure if any transplant studies have occurred, but the pygmy cypress grow much taller off the podzolized soils. Here is another post from a few years back that cites some of the early research on the staircases.

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