Manzanita trees are an evergreen hardwood, popular for bird perches, small boxes, and turning projects. They are commonly found in western North America and typically grow into shrubs or small trees.     

So how does Manzanita firewood perform? Is it worth the money or your time to chop down? We’re about to examine whether you should toss it in the fire.

Does manzanita make good firewood?

Manzanita makes excellent firewood that provides intense heat and slow-burning coals. This extremely dense wood takes a long time to season thoroughly, but you’ll get fuel that burns clean and gives off a pleasant fragrance.

  • Emits intense heat and produces good coals.
  • Can be fiddly to split due to its size.
  • May spark aggressively when stoked up.
Infographic of manzanita firewood statistics

Manzanita firewood burn qualities

1. Heat output

Manzanita gives off an impressive 32.0 million BTUs per cord, one of the hottest hardwoods you can burn. This wood is an excellent choice if your home gets extremely cold in winter. Other hot-burning firewood varieties include black locust and Gambel oak.

Manzanita burns so fiercely that you may prefer combining it with another wood variety that doesn’t burn so hot. For shoulder season, consider birch or another variety that has a lower BTU.

Check out the following table comparing the heat output of manzanita to various other common types of firewood.

Wood varietyHeat per Cord (Million BTUs)
Quaking aspen18.2
Green ash20.0
Black locust27.9
Osage orange32.9

2. Smoke

Fully seasoned manzanita will give off minimal smoke. It produces less than alternatives like pine, elm, and birch. You don’t have to worry about sore, red eyes from smoke at campfires and open fireplaces.

The top hardwoods like ash, oak, and hickory produce very little smoke once dried. Keep in mind that burning any green wood will create excess smoke.

3. Ease of splitting

Manzanita is typically an easy wood to split. It is dense, but the pieces break apart much easier than some other species. Many trees don’t grow huge, so their logs can be crooked and fiddly to position and chop.

Splitting manzanita while green is the best practice as it speeds up seasoning time. If you’ve got a pile of cured logs, try sticking a wedge into a hairline crack and hammering it. The wood should break apart easily without the need for a splitting axe.

If you’re unlucky, you may get landed with the tree’s crotch, a notoriously tricky section of the tree. This twisted wood will put up a stubborn defense when you try to chop it. Try splitting it on a freezing day as the wood comes apart easier.

4. Sparks

Wood that pops and sparks could start an unwanted fire or burn someone. Manzanita tends to burn clean, but caution should be taken when stoking the coals. They tend to fire out glowing hot cinders once stirred up.

Seasoning helps reduce the number of sparks, but if you want to avoid sparking, consider oak. It’s a great option for clean-burning fires without any surprises.

5. Aroma

Some firewood varieties give off a fragrance that fills your house with a relaxing, homely feel. Manzanita has a pleasant smell that most will appreciate.

If you barbecue or smoke meat, you’ll also want to consider the aroma of wood. Manzanita gives food a mellow smokey flavor without any unwanted harsh aftertaste. It is delicious for cooking poultry, seafood, beef, pork, and vegetables.

6. Coaling

The coals produced by firewood dictate how well a fire burns and its duration. Wood with good coaling properties will keep a home warm through the night. Re-lighting a fire the following day is often possible with good coals.

Manzanita is one of the densest hardwoods, producing excellent coals. Compared to pine, fir, or basswood, it is vastly superior.

7. Creosote build-up

Creosote is an unpleasant black tar deposited on the chimney as the fire burns. It makes ventilation less effective and requires cleaning. Some varieties like pine create a lot of creosote build-up.

Correctly seasoned manzanita creates minimal creosote build-up. It doesn’t contain oils or excessive sap and resin.

Whatever wood you choose, remember to clean your chimney once a year.

A grove of manzanita shrubs isolated on a white background.
Manzanita shrubs may not produce much wood for your fire.

Safety precautions: Manzanita is a valuable type of firewood that provides excellent heat. But it should be used with some caution. Never overload a woodstove, as it may not take the intense heat. Metal spark arresters are recommended for the top of the flue when burning manzanita.

The pros and cons of burning manzanita


  • Intense heat and clean burning.
  • Excellent coals for longer-lasting warmth.
  • Adds delicious flavor when used for cooking.


  • Coals may spark aggressively when stoked.
  • May produce too much heat for some fireplaces.
  • Small trees may not provide much wood.

How long does manzanita take to season?

Manzanita will take 12-18 months to fully season in warm, dry climates. Those living in cold and damp areas will need 18-24 months for the moisture content to reduce sufficiently. You can burn this wood earlier, but the heat output will be less, and you’ll experience more sparking and smoke.

Tips for seasoning Manzanita

Thoroughly seasoned wood will smoke less and produce more heat. Learn how to speed up the seasoning of manzanita by following these tips.

  • Split the firewood: chop the logs into small pieces to increase the surface area exposed to sunshine and wind.
  • Make gaps: build stacks with a 3-5” gap between each to assist with air circulation.
  • Consider the elements: Reduce curing time by positioning the stack’s face towards the wind and avoiding shady areas.
  • Raise the wood: lay the wood on pallets to allow airflow under the wood.
  • Cover the wood: use a tarp or suitable cover to protect it from rain and snow but keep one side exposed to the wind.
  • Use a criss-cross pattern: face the wood in opposing directions while stacking.

Commonly asked questions

How do I identify a manzanita tree?

The manzanita tree has mahogany-colored bark and thick, leathery oval leaves. Its flowers are small bell-shaped blooms that are white or pinkish. The tree also produces edible red berries that contain inedible seeds.

What does manzanita firewood look like?

Manzanita wood has a fine, uniform texture and brownish-red heartwood. The sapwood is off-white or light brown, and a swirled grain is common.

5 facts about the manzanita tree

  1. The botanical name for the manzanita is Arctostaphylos, from the family Ericaceae.
  2. Manzanitas mostly grow to a height of 8-20 feet and often develop twisted branches.
  3. The flowers attract pollinators like bumblebees, honey bees, and hummingbirds from April to June.
  4. The tree is related to the mountain mahogany which also provides high heat output when burned.
  5. The name “manzanita” means “small apple” in Spanish.
  6. It is a perennial that may live for over 100 years in the right growing conditions.

Summing up

Manzanita is a good choice if you’re looking for hot-burning firewood. It has one of the highest heat outputs and produces impressive coals. Burning it with other wood varieties is an excellent idea to keep the heat at a more manageable level.

The biggest problem with using manzanita for firewood is the trees may not develop a solid trunk. That can make splitting the wood a fiddly process, especially as the tree often grows in a twisted formation.

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