Manzanita! The word conjures visions of curvy reddish limbs reaching upward and outward into the sky, a feast for the fingers as well as the eyes. But there is much more to this plant than its striking beauty, including its talent for thriving in tough conditions. Have you ever wondered how 193 species and subspecies have managed to emerge since manzanita first appeared on the central California coast 37 million years ago?
In January, when manzanitas of all shapes and sizes will be glowing with small white or pink flowers, author and naturalist Kate Marianchild will explain some of manzanita’s “mojo” ̶ its profound partnerships with fungi and bumblebees; its super-thin skin that both helps and hinders it; and its waxy leaves that follow the sun from dawn to dusk. She’ll tell stories about pollination in middle C; unscrupulous “nectar thieves,” and bark that peels around summer solstice. She’ll also emphasize manzanita’s vital role in the lives of animals ̶ from ants and silk moths to birds and bears.
Kate Marianchild is the author of Secrets of the Oak Woodlands: Plants and Animals among California’s Oaks. This award-winning bestseller is an engaging and beautifully illustrated romp through California’s most widespread habitat. With humor, affection, and scientific accuracy, Marianchild profiles the behaviors, social structures, anatomical marvels and co-evolutionary relationships of 22 plants and animals found in California’s oak woodlands.
Marianchild lives in a yurt near Ukiah surrounded by acorn woodpeckers, woodrats, newts and five kinds of oaks. When she is not giving talks, guiding walks or observing nature, she swims, sings and advocates for the preservation of native plants and the food webs that depend on them. More information, as well as the opportunity to purchase signed copies of her book, close-focus binoculars and oak identification guides may be found at www.katemarianchild.com.
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