The Franciscan manzanita is a low, spreading evergreen shrub in the heath family. It may reach up to 3 feet in height when mature. Its leaves are about 1.5 centimeters long, its flowers are urn shaped, and its fruits are mahogany brown and about 6 to 8 millimeters wide. The Franciscan manzanita is considered to be endemic to the San Francisco Peninsula, California, which has been largely converted to urban areas. Habitat suitable for the plant is now mostly lost to development.
The primary threat to the Franciscan manzanita comes from the continuing effects of the previous destruction of the species’ habitat and curtailment of its range. The original occupied habitat of the species has been lost, and, at the time of listing only one plant occurred in the wild. Limited suitable habitat remains to support a viable population of the species, although the remaining habitat is fragmented and may be subject to edge effects and nitrogen deposition. Additional threats include over-collection; diseases, including fungal infection (twig blight) and phytophthora; climate change; alteration of the natural fire regime; trampling of the plant or compaction of its soils; vandalism; natural catastrophes; and hybridization.
Endangered; previously thought to be extinct in the wild; a single wild specimen of the Franciscan manzanita was found in 2009 and listed in 2012. Since listing the species, additional plants, which were raised from cuttings taken from the single wild plant, have been planted within natural habitat on the Presidio (Critical Habitat Unit 2).