Chaparral and woodlands
Western United States and northern Mexico
No listed status
This species is
to the Truckee Meadows.
Mountain mahogany are evergreen plants that grow either as shrubs or small trees between 8 and 12 feet tall. Their leaves grow in clusters along the stem. Their flowers are not showy, however their fruits are long, feathery, and covered with small shiny hairs. Mountain mahogany's wood is hard and a reddish color, hence the name "mahogany".
These shrubs glisten in the sunlight because of their silvery fruits known as achenes.
Despite their common name, these shrubs are not related to true mahogany, which is a valuable wood of the tropics.
Mountain mahogany is a valuable resource for indigenous groups. The wood was used to make spears, digging sticks and arrow shafts, and the bark and roots were used to make a red-purple dye.
The bark was used to make a medicinal tea to treat colds, and the sap was dried, pulverized, and used as a topical treatment for earaches.
In the Paiute language, mountain mahogany is called Toope.
Edna M. Rey-Vizgirdas and Ray Vizgirdas, 2009, book.
Willis Linn Jepson, The Jepson Journal, 2002, book.
California Native Plant Society, Mountain Mahogany, 2021, https://calscape.org/Cercocarpus-betuloides-(Mountain-Mahogany)
Calflora, Mountain Mahogany, 2021, https://www.calflora.org/app/taxon?crn=1878
Pyramid Lake, The Paiute Language, 2021, http://www.numuinc.com/home/the-tribe/the-paiute-language/
Image: Akos Kokai, https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Mountain_mahogany_(9294650300).jpg, license https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/deed.en, cropped from original.
Image: Bri Weldon, https://www.flickr.com/photos/briweldon/5186055197/, license https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/, cropped from original.
Emma Steer (research & content)
Alex Shahbazi (edits & page design)