Arctostaphylos densiflora 'Sentinel'
Vine Hill Manzanita
A. densiflora, or Vine Hill Manzanita, is a rare plant species endemic to Sonoma County. Only 20-30 plants still exist in the wild, currently protected on land owned by the California Native Plant Society. The 'Sentinel' selection is an upright form that usually grows 6 feet tall by 8 feet wide. It has a stout trunk and a more openly-branching form. Somewhat less tolerant of irrigation and heavy soils than the ‘Howard McMinn’ selection, it is still one of the less disease-prone Manzanitas. Pale pink flowers appear in early spring. ‘Sentinel’ can be trained as a small tree. Beware, it is sensitive to root rot if over-watered.
Wildlife value: The word manzanita means “little apple”. Birds love to eat the berries. Hummingbirds sip nectar from the blossoms.
Other uses: Manzanita is prized for its many uses. The berries can be eaten raw or cooked and are known to quench thirst (if you happen to find yourself in the wild without a canteen). The berries, leaves, and smooth mahogany-colored wood have all been used as food, medicine, and for tools.