Manzanita (Arctostaphylos pungens)
Manzanita (Arctostaphylos pungens)

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Common Name(s): Manzanita

Scientific Name: Arctostaphylos spp. (Arctostaphylos pungens)

Distribution: Shrubland regions of western North America

Tree Size: 3-16 ft (1-5 m) tall, 6-10 in (15-25 cm) trunk diameter

Average Dried Weight: 57.6 lbs/ft3 (920 kg/m3)

Specific Gravity (Basic, 12% MC): .74, .92

Janka Hardness: 2,350 lbf (10,440 N)*

*Estimated hardness based on specific gravity

Modulus of Rupture: No data available

Elastic Modulus: No data available

Crushing Strength: No data available

Shrinkage: No data available

Color/Appearance: Heartwood is brownish red, sometimes with a bright orange hue. Sapwood is a pale off-white to light brown; clearly distinguished from heartwood, but not sharply demarcated. Burls and wild or swirled grain is common.

Grain/Texture: Manzanita has a fine, uniform texture with a good natural luster.

Endgrain: No data available.

Rot Resistance: No official data available, though anecdotal reports suggest that the wood is very durable and resistant to decay.

Workability: Manzanita can be difficult to machine because the tree (usually a shrub) tends to have so many defects and irregular grain. Small pieces with straight, clear grain are relatively easy to work when compared to woods of similar density. Manzanita tends to check and split if not dried with care. Turns and finishes superbly.

Odor: No characteristic odor.

Allergies/Toxicity: Besides the standard health risks associated with any type of wood dust, no further health reactions have been associated with Manzanita. See the articles Wood Allergies and Toxicity and Wood Dust Safety for more information.

Pricing/Availability: Manzanita is typically only a small shrub or tree, and supplies are limited to hobbyist demand. Root burls are the most common form of Manzanita offered for sale. Very small boards and turning blanks are also available occasionally. Given Manzanita’s small size, and special processing requirements, prices are understandably high.

Sustainability: This wood species is not listed in the CITES Appendices or on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Common Uses: Decorative slabs, small boxes, turned objects, and other small, specialty wood items.

Comments: The gnarled and twisted branches of Manzanita make it a favorite wood for bird perches and aquarium driftwood. However, its form as a shrub generally means that its beautiful wood is only straight enough and long enough to be used in very small projects.

Related Species:

None available.

Related Articles:

None available.

Scans/Pictures:

Manzanita (Arctostaphylos pungens)
Manzanita (sanded)

Manzanita (sealed)
Manzanita (sealed)

Manzanita (burl)
Manzanita (burl)
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Jake

I found drying and curing Manzanita quite simple. Get a gallon and a half boiling water, mix in 1.75 oz gorilla glue. Boil only 2-3 mins. Mix thouroghly. After project is done, use heat proof glooves, use a sponge and wipe down. Will dry rather quickly. Keep water in pot mid warm. Apply several coats until desired finish. Not only prevents cracking but also strengthes an already dense wood. Also use clear gorilla glue.

Brandon

Manzanita that has died slowly, when under the yearly increasing shade of larger trees, or the undergrowth in a stand of manzanita, will have no cracks. The leaves need ‘full sun’ so it’s common for half of the manzanita, underneath, to be dead and uncracked, since the overgrowth happened slowly and the undergrowth died a little portion of stalk at a time. It can take years for a single stalk to die.

Paul Crim

#1 – I’m a woodworker (hobby type) #2 – I live on 2 acres with mostly manzanita, both live growing and dead still standing. All sizes from twigs up to about 6″-8″ diameter. Lengths from short to aprox. 2′-3′ straight sections. Lots of possible project sizes. But, I have the same problem as everyone else. It cracks when drying. I’ve tried sealing the cut ends with melted wax and drying them inside for slower drying. After about 2 weeks the cracks still show up lengthwise on all sizes. How do you dry this “nasty” wood and eliminate most of the… Read more »

Michael

did you ever get any answers? I’m going to start experimenting with it but looking for suggestions, at least ways that don’t work. Do you know what the moisture content was of the wood when you started drying it?

SomeDudeOnline

You might want to try boiling the wood. https://www.woodturningvideosplus.com/boiling-green-wood.html

Arle Lommel

Too late to help you, but I’ve had good luck drying manzanita trunk wood by promptly cutting down the pith line on a bandsaw in two planes (basically quartering it, but the quarters are uneven because the pith isn’t centered) and waxing it. If you leave the trunk intact it will check badly. You have to relieve the stress of drying by cutting it in advance. The good news is that manzanita typically grows strongly to one side of the pith line, so you could end up with three-quarters of the wood in one chunk of you think out how… Read more »

Karl Echtermeyer

This is the appropriate way to handle it. Cutting down the pith line solves the problem. You may still get some checking on thinner pieces, but for thicker pieces with some mass to them, waxing will prevent this, and I’ve actually found it checks less than many other woods.

Dhans

Wax is exactly what I was thinking for this project! I need to know how to cut back a patch of manzanita and keep it gone. I have pruned this patch twice, it growing back in thicker each time

Bert Nobell

Try soaking in radiator fluid. The water in the wood is replaced by the glycerine in the radiator fluid that won’t evaporate. Your manz is stablized