Rosaceae (rose family) Cercocarpus

Cercocarpus betuloides mountain mahogany

Southern Oregon to Baja California, Arizona
Cercocarpus betuloides at Nora Suppes Hall. Sairus Patel, 17 Jan 2024
Cercocarpus betuloides. From An Illustrated Manual of Pacific Coast Trees, Howard E. McMinn & Evelyn Maino

This California 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 within the shrubbery south of Nora Suppes Hall, across the driveway, where several other California natives thrive, including sugar bush and lemonade berry. Mountain mahogany is widespread and locally abundant at Jasper Ridge Biological Preserve.

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. Minor edits (Jan 2024, SP).