Mostly evergreen shrubs, partly procumbent, or small trees, twigs densely foliate, often curvy with smooth reddish or brownish bark. Leaves alternate, simple, usually entire and obtuse. Flowers in terminal, nodding, clusters (panicles or racemes), pitcher shaped, 8-10 stamens enclosed. Fruit a berry-like drupe with 4-10 nutlets. Some 50-70 species in Northern and Central America, mostly in California. However, two species are circumpolar (A. alpinus and A. uva-ursi).
Arctostaphylos: from Greek arktos, a bear, and staphyle, a bunch of grapes (bears said to eat the fruit).