Cercocarpus betuloides Torrey & A. Gray var. betuloides

Birch-leaf Mountain Mahogany
Rosaceae (Rose Family)


Birch-leaf mountain mahogany is one of the two common mountain mahoganies found in Southern California, the other being curl-leaf mountain mahogany, Cercocarpus ledifolius var. intermontanus, which typically grows above 4500'. Although birch-leaf mountain mahogany can reside up to 7500', it also may be found at much lower elevations.  This is a much-branched shrub or small tree sometimes reaching 20' in height with stiff, spreading branches and grayish bark. The alternate evergreen leaves are widely elliptic to obovate, serrately-toothed from middle to tip, fairly thin and sparsely downy-hirsute below, and 1/3" to 1-1/2" in length.  There are clusters of 2-3 apetalus flowers arising from short whitish stems, each of which has 5 broad-triangular sepals and many stamens. The fruits have spiral, somewhat silky plumes 1-1/2" to 2" long, and are particularly beautiful when an early morning or late afternoon sun shines through them.  Birch-leaf mountain mahogany is most often found on dry, rocky slopes in chaparral and coniferous forest in the Transverse and Peninsular Ranges, blooming from March to April.

Click here for Latin name derivations: 1) Cercocarpus 2) betuloides.
Pronunciation: sir-ko-KAR-pus bet-yoo-LO-i-dees.
Click here for Botanical Term Meanings.