Manzanita expert Tom Parker speaking at the Grange

Manzanita researcher and expert Tom Parker is speaking at the Grange on Feb. 27.

Contributed photo

Manzanita expert and researcher Tom Parker will take his audience on an ecology and evolution journey exploring manzanitas on Saturday, Feb. 27 at 7 p.m. at the Santa Ynez Valley Grange/Los Olivos Library in Los Olivos.

Parker is co-author of "A Field Guide to Manzanitas: California, North America, and Mexico" and will be signing copies of his book. The Santa Ynez Valley Natural History Society has teamed with the Los Olivos Library to co-sponsor this presentation.

Used as stunning ornamentals in gardens and seen near the top of Figueroa Mountain or along local hiking trails — manzanitas are the shrubs with smooth red bark, twisting branches, and simple elegant leaves.  

The California Floristic Province is the center of diversity for manzanitas. Ranging from the Sierra Nevada mountains to coastal bluffs along the Pacific, from temperate rainforests along the North Pacific Coast to arid mountain slopes in Southern California, a wealth of manzanita species and subspecies grow in an array of environments.

This presentation will introduce the diversity and evolutionary context, then focus on a few ecological processes that contribute to the evolution of this group, especially animal dispersal mutualisms and response to wildfires. 

Parker is Professor of Biology at San Francisco State University where he’s been employed as an ecologist since 1980. He investigates community and evolutionary ecology focused on the dynamics of plant communities: chaparral seed banks, tidal wetland dynamics, seed dispersal of tropical trees, mycorrhizal ecology of forests and chaparral.

Fore more information of the Santa Ynez Valley Natural History Society, visit The Los Olivos Library is open Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

This report was compiled by Mary Ann Norbom. You can reach her at


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