The Forager's Path - School of Botanical Studies

Plant Profile: Manzanita

Botanical Name:
Arctostaphylos pungens or A. pringlei
Arctostaphylos uva ursi grows at higher elevations, mostly above 8,000′.

Family: EricaceaeArctostaphylos, manzanita

Common Names:

Part Used for Medicine:

Habitat in Which it is Found/ Harvesting Season/ Special Considerations: 

Manzanita refers to the red berries that resemble small apples, a favorite of birds. This evergreen bush is usually 3’-5’ high in the Sedona area although there are rare exceptions that approach a small tree size.
At higher elevations and further north in Colorado is Uva Ursi, also known as Bearberry. This is an Arctostaphylos species that has the same therapeutic use as Manzanita.
The Heath family contains cranberry which is also used to support bladder health.

Arbutin is the constituent that receives most of the press for its therapeutic action. Arbutin converts to hydroquinone which works against E coli. It is important to remember that plants work in the matrix – the combination of many chemical compounds working together.

Herbal Actions:
Astringent due to tannins. Anti-bacterial due to arbutin content.

Its primary use is for urinary tract infections with alkaline urine.  Arbutin has shown to have anti-bacterial action against E. coli, which is responsible for about 85% of UTIs. While this genus has a long history for this application, a comprehensive approach works best. Manzanita is most effective in a formula.

Safety Issues & Contraindications:
The drying astringency of the leaf preparations can be internally irritating with prolonged use. This should not be an issue as this is a plant to be used for acute conditions rather than as a tonic. Combining its use with a soothing demulcent such as mallow can reduce the chance of irritation.

Preferred Method of Preparation:
Infusion or tincture of the dried leaves.

The Plant Profiles are brief materia medica summaries of plants encountered during plant walks or introduced during class on our longer programs. They are presented here to help students organize plant info on an ongoing basis. Although the Profiles are not meant to be comprehensive, they are offered here to the public in the hope that others find these pages useful.


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