Evergreen Shrub growing to 2 m by 2m. It is hardy to zone 8. It is in leaf all year, in flower from February to April. The species is hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs) and is pollinated by Bees. The plant is self-fertile.
Suitable for: light (sandy) and medium (loamy) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: acid soils and can grow in very acid soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers dry or moist soil. The plant can tolerate maritime exposure.
Edible Uses Fruit – raw or cooked. An agreeable acid flavor but the fruit is dry and mealy. Hard to digest, the fruit should be eaten in moderation. It can be dried and ground into a powder and then used as a flavoring in soups, bread, etc. A cooling drink can be made from the fruit. The berries can be crushed to make a sweet, unfermented cider. A poultice of the chewed leaves is applied to sores and headaches. The leaves are chewed as a treatment for stomach aches and cramps. An infusion of the leaves is used to treat severe colds and diarrhea. A cider made from the fruit is used in the treatment of stomach complaints and as an appetizer to create an appetite. Cultivation details
Requires a deep moist well-drained light or medium lime-free loam in sun or semi-shade but plants produce less fruit when they are grown in the shade. Prefers a warm sunny position. Tolerates down to between -5 and -10°C. Pollination is often poor in Britain. Another report says that the plant does not fruit in this country. This species is called A. pungens manzanita by some botanists. Plants resent root disturbance and should be placed in their final positions as soon as possible.
Seed – best sown in a greenhouse as soon as it is ripe. Pre-soak dried seed in boiling water for 10 – 20 seconds or burn some straw on top of them and then stratify at 2 – 5°c for 2 months. Another report says that the seed requires 60 days warm followed by 60 days cold stratification. The seed usually germinates in 2 – 3 months at 15°C. When large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in a cold frame or greenhouse for at least their first winter. Plant out in late spring or early summer. Cuttings of side shoots of the current season’s growth, 5 – 8cm with a heel, August to December in a frame. Takes one year. Division in early spring. Take care because the plant resents root disturbance. Pot the divisions up and keep them in a lightly shaded position in a cold frame or greenhouse until they are growing away actively. Layering in spring.