FWS Focus



The Franciscan manzanita is a low, spreading-to-ascending, evergreen shrub in the heath family (Ericaceae) that may reach 2 to 3 feet in height when mature. It has mahogany brown fruits and urn-shaped flowers. In the wild, Franciscan manzanita reproduces primarily from seed rather than from burls. 

Currently, there are five populations of the plant; all are in the Presidio of San Francisco in San Francisco, California. The Franciscan manzanita was considered extirpated from the wild until 2009, when a single plant was discovered. Since then, the wild plant has been relocated to save it from construction activities and clones of the wild plant, using cuttings and layers taken from the wild plant, have been planted in other areas of the Presidio. Permanently cultivated plants are being grown at seven botanical gardens: University of California Botanic Garden at Berkeley, San Francisco Botanical Garden at Strybing Arboretum, Tilden Regional Parks Botanic Garden, California Botanic Garden, Humboldt Botanical Garden, Santa Cruz Arboretum and Botanic Garden and Santa Barbara Botanic Garden. In total, all extant Franciscan manzanita in the wild and in cultivation represent between one and six genetically distinct plants. 

This species was listed as endangered in 2012.

The primary threats to the Franciscan manzanita are habitat loss associated with urban development or habitat conversion through shrub encroachment and the introduction of nonnative plant species. Additional threats include impacts by visitor use and vandalism, impacts from soilborne pathogens, predation by rodents, the effects of climate change climate change
Climate change includes both global warming driven by human-induced emissions of greenhouse gases and the resulting large-scale shifts in weather patterns. Though there have been previous periods of climatic change, since the mid-20th century humans have had an unprecedented impact on Earth's climate system and caused change on a global scale.

Learn more about climate change
, alteration of the natural fire regime, stochastic events and small population size, loss of pollinators and hybridization.

Scientific Name

Arctostaphylos franciscana
Common Name
Franciscan manzanita
San Francisco manzanita
FWS Category
Flowering Plants

Location in Taxonomic Tree

Identification Numbers



Characteristic category

Life Cycle


In the wild, Franciscan manzanita reproduces primarily from seed.

Characteristic category



The species has been known to occur only on the San Francisco Peninsula in areas with serpentine soils, bedrock outcrops, greenstone and mixed Franciscan rock. In addition to these soils, cool air temperatures and summer fog are the primary habitat requirements for the species. Though considered a serpentine endemic by most botanists, the Franciscan manzanita will grow well in other soil types as long as the stands are within the maritime climate influence.


The land near a shore.


Of or relating to cities and the people who live in them.

Characteristic category

Physical Characteristics

Size & Shape

The Franciscan manzanita is a low, spreading-to-ascending, evergreen shrub in the heath family (Ericaceae) that may reach 2 to 3 feet (0.6 to 0.9 meters) in height when mature. Its leaves are about 0.6 to 0.8 inch (1.5 to 2 centimeters) long, have the same type of surface on both sides and are longer than they are wide and wider towards the tip. Its mahogany brown fruits are about 0.24 to 0.32 inch (6 to 8 millimeters) wide, while its urn-shaped flowers measure about 0.2 to 0.28 inch (5 to 7 millimeters) long.


Launch Interactive Map


Explore the information available for this taxon's timeline. You can select an event on the timeline to view more information, or cycle through the content available in the carousel below.

14 Items