Alphabetical Plant Listing

Cercocarpus betuloides (Mountain Mahogany)

Mountain Mahogany, Birch-Leaf Mountain-Mahogany, Comes, Mountain Ironwood, Sweet Brush, Hardtack, Cercocarpus montanus, Cercocarpus douglasii


Cercocarpus betuloides (Mountain Mahogany) is an evergreen, flowering shrub of upright, rounded to columnar habit, adorned with a rigid, silver-barked trunk. Its short branches are clothed with rounded, alternate leaves with distinctive serrated margins extending from the middle to the top of each leaf, resembling a birch leaf. Dark green above, the leaves are white with soft hairs underneath. Interestingly, the leaves maintain a vertical orientation and rotate toward the sun throughout the day. Clusters of mildly fragrant, white flowers appear in spring. Attractive to bees and butterflies, they are followed by a profusion of decorative feather-like seeds adorned with a long curled plume covered with white hairs. Mountain Mahogany has the ability to fix nitrogen, and produces roots that extend to a depth of 6 ft. (180 cm). Growing in dry areas in the foothills and mountains of California, often in chaparral communities, and in other parts of the southwestern United States and Baja California, this evergreen shrub is well adapted to nutrient-poor soils, tolerates a wide range of soil types, drought conditions and presents a good salinity tolerance. Mountain Mahogany is excellent as a screening shrub or hedge, and a lovely alternative to bamboo. Long-lived, it is a great plant for restoration and erosion control too. Native American Californians used the hard, reddish wood for arrows, digging and spearing fish.

  • Grows up to 8-20 ft. tall (240-600 cm) and 10-12 ft. wide (300-360 cm).
  • Performs best in full sun to part shade in very acidic to slightly alkaline, well-drained soils. Water once per month during summer. This shrub is very drought tolerant. Moderate salt spray tolerance. Tolerates serpentine soil.
  • No serious pest or disease issues. The achenes cause mild skin irritation and can create litter during fruiting season.
  • Propagate by seed. Deplumed seeds should be soaked in water for thirty minutes before sowing. Stratification may then be necessary for 30 days at 41 degrees.
  • Native to to California, Baja California, Oregon, Arizona, and northwestern New Mexico.

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Requirements

Hardiness 5 – 9
Climate Zones 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 9, 10, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24
Plant Type Shrubs
Exposure Full Sun, Partial Sun
Season of Interest Spring (Early,Mid,Late)
Summer (Early,Mid,Late)
Fall
Winter
Height 8' – 20' (240cm – 6m)
Spread 10' – 12' (3m – 3.6m)
Spacing 24" – 60" (60cm – 150cm)
Water Needs Low
Maintenance Low
Soil Type Loam, Sand
Soil pH Acid, Neutral
Soil Drainage Well-Drained
Characteristics Evergreen
Native Plants United States, California, Pacific Northwest, Oregon, Southwest, Arizona, New Mexico
Tolerance Drought, Salt
Attracts Birds, Butterflies
Garden Uses Banks and Slopes, Hedges and Screens
Garden Styles Coastal Garden

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Krystyna B, jared Quentin, Shutterstock, John Rusk, Joe Decruyenaere, Flickr

While every effort has been made to describe these plants accurately, please keep in mind that height, bloom time, and color may differ in various climates. The description of these plants has been written based on numerous outside resources.


Requirements

Hardiness 5 – 9
Climate Zones 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 9, 10, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24
Plant Type Shrubs
Exposure Full Sun, Partial Sun
Season of Interest Spring (Early,Mid,Late)
Summer (Early,Mid,Late)
Fall
Winter
Height 8' – 20' (240cm – 6m)
Spread 10' – 12' (3m – 3.6m)
Spacing 24" – 60" (60cm – 150cm)
Water Needs Low
Maintenance Low
Soil Type Loam, Sand
Soil pH Acid, Neutral
Soil Drainage Well-Drained
Characteristics Evergreen
Native Plants United States, California, Pacific Northwest, Oregon, Southwest, Arizona, New Mexico
Tolerance Drought, Salt
Attracts Birds, Butterflies
Garden Uses Banks and Slopes, Hedges and Screens
Garden Styles Coastal Garden

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