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Cercocarpus montanus
birchleaf mountain mahagony

Habit: medium sized shrub, depending on climate and water availability it can hold on to its leaves long enough to be considered an evergreen, in some cases it will only retain its leaves for 5-6 months. It is sometimes found as a tree. The bark is grayish brown and generally smooth. The dark green or yellow-green leaves are egg-shaped with a more rounded tip, margins are crudely toothed. Flowers are small, inconspicuous, trumpet-shaped, and white to yellow. The fruit is a slender achene with a long, feathery tail 1-4 in (2.5-10cm) long.

Ecology: found in the dry areas of the Western North America from Southwest Oregon south into Northern Mexico.  Occurs in canyons, woodlands, dry mountain slopes, mesas, desert foothills, and rocky outcrops from 4000-10,000 ft (1220- 3050 m).

Growing Conditions: Full sun to partial shade, coarse dry soil, drought tolerant once established, cold hardy.

Fixes nitrogen and aids in erosion control.  The bark has been used to make dye. Can be formed into a hedge.

Click to enlarge.
Container Availability
Deciduous/Evergreen Shrub
3-20 ft (1-6 m)
3-20 ft (1-6 m)
USDA Zones:
Distribution of

Map courtesy of USDA-NRCS Plants Database.