Habit: densely branched, upright and slow growing evergreen shrub/tree with one to several trunks, contorting into bold appearances. Young smooth, white bark becomes thick, brown and deeply furrowed in older plants. Often clustered at the stem tips the leathery, sticky leaves are narrowly oval with a pointed tip (lance-shaped) and margins that curl inward. Tops of leaves are dark green while the undersides are pale green. Small creamy yellow flowers are trumpet shaped and hairy, not showy and occurring singly or in clusters of 2 or 3 with the most visible part being the stamen. Fruit is a very showy achene with a sharp tip and a long fuzzy tail attached to the seed, used in wind dispersal. Flowers from late March though early July.
Ecology: found in the Western United States on rocky ridges and low mountain slopes at elevations in its range of 1200-3000 ft (366-914m) where there is little water and extreme variation in temperature.
Growing Conditions: full sun, in shallow to deep, well-drained, nutrient-poor, coarse soils, drought tolerant.
Don’t let the common name fool you Cercocarpus lediflolius is not technically a mahogany (Meliaceae) since it is part of the rose family (Rosaceae). It provides good shelter and food for birds and other wildlife.