The Franciscan Manzanita, Arctostaphylos franciscana, was originally discovered in the 1800s near San Francisco.

This shrub was a common sight until the rapid urban development and expansion of the city led to its presumed extinction in the wild by the 1940s.

The manzanita was known for its unique characteristics, distinct from other manzanita species, and its ability to thrive in the specific environmental conditions of the San Francisco Bay area.

In a twist of fate, in 2009, the last known wild specimen of the Franciscan Manzanita was rediscovered during a highway project.

This chance finding occurred when a botanist noticed the plant in an area that was temporarily spared from construction due to a parked law enforcement vehicle.

The discovery sparked a significant conservation effort, highlighting the importance of preserving natural habitats and the species that inhabit them.

The lone Franciscan Manzanita represents not only a critical piece of the region’s botanical heritage but also serves as a symbol of hope for conservationists.

The ongoing efforts to protect and possibly propagate this species underscore the challenges and opportunities in conserving biodiversity in urban environments.

California Works to Rescue Franciscan Manzanita Plant from Extinction