This Calfornia native shrub or small tree has reddish wood, and in the summer showy seeds with long, feathery plumes. Some people detect a wintergreen odor from the crushed leaves. A few mountain mahogany grow among shrubbery south of Ventura Hall (left of the driveway), where several other California natives have been planted including Rhus ovata and Arbutus menziesii. Mountain mahogany is widespread and locally abundant at Stanford University’s Jasper Ridge Biological Preserve. More information about Jasper Ridge’s flora and plant communities.
Illustrations: Jasper Ridge photo archive.
Name derivation: Cercocarpus – Greek kerkos, tail, and karpos, fruit; an allusion to the tail-shaped achene; betuloides – birch-like leaves. California Plant Names: Latin and Greek Meanings and Derivations, Compiled by Michael L. Charters.
Related material: Field guide: Illustrated Field Guide to the Woody Plants of the Santa Cruz Mountains (2005), by Toni Corelli. Available from Toni Corelli.
About this Entry: John Rawlings authored the main text of this entry ca. 2008.