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Cercocarpus ledifolius Nutt.
Curl-leaf mountain mahogany, Curl-leaf mountain-mahogany
USDA Symbol: cele3
USDA Native Status: Native to U.S.
Curl-leaf mountain-mahogany is a 10-20 ft. evergreen shrub or small tree with white bark and small, leathery leaves – dark-green on top and silvery underneath. Slightly resinous and aromatic evergreen shrub or small tree with compact, rounded crown of widely spreading, curved, and twisted branches and many stiff twigs. The leaves are narrow and pinched at the mid-rib, then bent to one side, hence the name curl-leaf. The flowers are inconspicuous, but the short, spiral, silver-haired seed plumes are eye-catching. The whole plant has a spicy aroma.
This species is a small tree characteristic of lower mountain slopes throughout the Great Basin. Deer browse the evergreen foliage year-round. The hard, heavy wood is an important source of fuel in local mining operations; it is also used for novelties, as it takes a high polish. The name Mountain-mahogany applied to this genus is misleading; these shrubby trees are not related to true mahogany (Swietenia), a valuable cabinetwood of tropical America. The dark reddish-brown, mahogany-colored heartwood may have led to this name. Navajo Indians made a red dye from the roots by grinding and then mixing them with juniper ashes and powdered alder bark.
Plant CharacteristicsDuration: Perennial Habit: Shrub Leaf:
Green Fruit: Size Class:
Bloom InformationBloom Color: Yellow
Bloom Time: Mar , Apr
AZ , CA , CO , ID , MT , NV , OR , UT , WA , WY Native Distribution:
W. MT to s.e. WA, s. to w. CO, n. AZ & CA Native Habitat:
High altitude desert areas; dry, rocky slopes; 4000-10,000 ft. USDA Native Status: L48(N)
Growing ConditionsWater Use:
Low Light Requirement:
Part Shade Soil Moisture:
Dry CaCO3 Tolerance:
High Soil Description:
Dry, nutrient-poor soils. Conditions Comments:
Adaptable, hardy and trouble-free, this is a good dwarf specimen tree. The tree
fixes nitrogen and is good for revegetation and erosion control. It is considered one of the hardiest broadleaf evergreen
with the capacity for growing to tree
BenefitUse Wildlife: An important browse species.
Conspicuous Flowers: yes
PropagationDescription: Slow-growing from seeds; sow in cool soil. Heel cutting from summer wood may root.
Seed Collection: Collect seeds as soon as the fruits are dry. This is usually indicated by a white aspect to the fruiting branches. Avoid exposure of skin to the hairy, white styles. Stored seeds remain viable for 5 years.
Seed Treatment: Three months moist chilling increases germination. Deplumed seeds should be soaked in water for thirty minutes before sowing.
Commercially Avail: yes
From the National Organizations Directory
According to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is either on display or available from the following:
Sibley Nature Center
- Midland, TXNative Seed Network
- Corvallis, OR
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Record Modified: 2007-01-01
Research By: TWC Staff