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Mountain-mahogany(Cercocarpus)

  • Fruit is a tiny, hard seed topped by a feathery tail.
  • Leaves are small and alternate, but commonly grow on spur shoots. They can be deciduous or persistent and can have smooth or toothed edges.
  • Mountain-mahoganies typically like dry sites in southwestern and southeastern Oregon.

 



A tiny, hard seed topped by feathery plume is the one characteristic that clearly separates mountain-mahoganies from other trees and shrubs. Some mountain-mahoganies are deciduous, while others are evergreen - some seem to straddle the line. There are about 10 species of mountain-mahogany, all of which grow only in the western United States. Two species are native to Oregon. The hyphen in the common name serves to alert us that this group of small tree and shrubs is not related to the true mahoganies that grow in the tropics. It is not uncommon to call this genus by its scientific name, Cercocarpus.

 



curlleaf mountain-mahogany: small leaves are narrow, tough, and leathery; edges are smooth and curled under. Evergreen.


birchleaf mountain-mahogany: small leaves are egg-shaped; edges are serrated towards the tip but smooth near the base. Evergreen, but sometimes just barely (old leaves may fall off as new leaves emerge).

 


For more information on the ashes native to the Pacific Northwest, go to the species page or see "Trees to Know in Oregon".


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